The Nobel Peace Prize for 2020
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security. Last year, it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. Its efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of the work is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.
Praising the work of the UN agency, the Nobel Committee highlighted its role in boosting resilience and sustainability among communities by helping them to feed themselves. The COVID-19 crisis has also added to global food insecurity with a likely total of 265 million starving people within a year. In countries such as Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, the combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation. In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts. As the organisation itself has stated, “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.”
"“The World Food Programme is the world’s first responder on the frontlines of food insecurity.”"
- UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The Norwegian Nobel Committee also emphasised that providing assistance to increase food security not only prevents hunger but can also help to improve prospects for stability and peace. The world is in danger of experiencing a hunger crisis of inconceivable proportions if the World Food Programme and other food assistance organisations do not receive the financial support they have requested.
WFP highlighted that the Nobel Peace Prize is not theirs alone. WFP works closely with government, organizations and private sector partners with equal passion for helping the hungry and vulnerable. As an operational agency, their work could not be possible without partners. WFP also praised the daily work of their staff, each day, driven by core values of integrity, humanity and inclusion.
Where there is conflict, there is hunger. And where there is hunger, there is often conflict. Today is a reminder that food security, peace and stability go together. Without peace, we cannot achieve our global goal of zero hunger; and while there is hunger, we will never have a peaceful world.
Statement by António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on the awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Peace to the World Food Programme
9 October 2020, UN Headquarters, NY