Ripple effects from the war in Ukraine have generated a severe cost-of-living crisis which no country or community can escape, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday at a press conference to launch the latest report on the conflict’s impacts on food security, energy, and financing.
The UN chief said the message is clear and insistent: countries must act now to save lives and livelihoods.
“Three months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we face a new reality,” he told reporters.
UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan, who co-leads the GCRG stream on finance, presented the report. She said the world is in “a race against time”, and inaction will be more costly than finding solutions.
The cost-of-living crisis could spark a “cycle of social unrest leading to political instability”, she warned.
“The current food crisis may rapidly turn into a food catastrophe of global proportions in 2023,” said Ms. Grynspan, head of the UN trade and development agency, UNCTAD.
The report makes clear that the war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe, and speeding up, the UN Secretary-General said.
Although ending the deadly and devastating conflict is the only way to stop the “gathering storm”, the UN chief called for immediate action on two fronts: stabilizing global food and energy markets and supporting poorer countries in the crisis.
He said Ms. Grynspan and the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, will coordinate two task forces on finding a “package deal” that would allow for Ukrainian-produced food to be safely and securely exported through the Black Sea, while Russian food and fertilizers would have unimpeded access to global markets.