Economic stimulus enough to end global hunger

It’s been a disturbing week. I kept reading that things were getting much worse more quickly than anticipated.

The world economy is plunging into recession faster than predicted even a month ago. There is talk of interest rates falling to zero.

Global hunger is supposed to be heading into history. But in its State of Food Insecurity in the World published this week, the FAO reported that hunger is rising. The total of undernourished people is now close to one billion.

At the Poznan climate change conference, eminently sensible scientists queued up to convey their worries that temperatures are rising beyond the predictions of their computer models. The crucial IPCC reports published last year already look too cautious.

This conjunction of unseasonal misery is not itself what’s bothering me because my work with OneWorld Guides gives me plenty of warning. It’s the political responses emerging during the week that are unsettling.

On Monday Barack Obama’s transition team put out a strong signal that its first act in January will be a spending spree to kickstart the US economy, on a scale of hundreds of billions of dollars. On Friday the Europeans weighed in with 200 billion euros and the Japanese a similar figure.

On Tuesday the director-general of the FAO said there was “little sign” that the $30 billion pa cost of reviving agriculture in poor countries would be forthcoming.

At Poznan, countries failed to agree on any new financial mechanisms to support the UN Adaptation Fund. Created to help developing countries defend themselves against the effects of climate change, the Fund needs over $80 billion pa. It currently stands at $80 million.

I’m not sure that we can behold this week’s work and, in the style of Genesis, pronounce that it was very good.

I would prefer instead to borrow an idea of the Guardian columnist, Simon Jenkins, who suggested on Wednesday that the UK government’s economic recovery plan would work much better if the Chancellor simply gave every citizen £1,000 to spend.

I can’t help noticing that all the stimulus plans of the world’s rich countries are likely to add up to a nice round sum of $1,000 for each for those billion people fighting hunger.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK