UN Food Chief to Musk: 'We Need Your Help, Brother'

David Beasley wants billionaires to step up, saying the situation is serious
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2022 5:25 PM CDT
UN Food Chief Tells Billionaires to 'Step Up'
David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, arrives to a Security Council meeting on food insecurity and conflict on Thursday in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The head of the United Nations' World Food Program is telling billionaires it's "time to step up" as the global threat of food insecurity rises with Russia's war in Ukraine. Executive Director David Beasley said he's seen encouraging signs from some of the world's richest people, like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Beasley built upon a social media back-and-forth he had with Musk last year, when the Tesla CEO challenged policy advocates to show how a $6 billion donation sought by the UN agency could solve world hunger. Since then, "Musk put $6 billion into a foundation," Beasley told the AP. "But everybody thought it came to us, but we ain’t gotten any of it yet."

Beasley, who's attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said he's hopeful. Billionaires are in attendance there. "I don’t know what it's going to take," he said of Musk. "We're trying every angle, you know: Elon, we need your help, brother." Musk and Bezos didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Beasley's challenge came as a new study projected that nearly 1.9 billion people could face food insecurity by November. Eurasia Group and DevryBV Sustainable Strategies presented the report Monday at the Global Citizen NOW Summit in New York, saying that as many as 243 million people could fall into food insecurity due to what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called “hurricane of hunger” heightened by the war in Ukraine.

"The projections are bleak right now," Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said. "This doesn't have to happen. A lot of institutions are failing people." Evans said he hopes that launching the Global Citizen Impact Fund, which will only require payment on pledges based on results, will persuade ultra high-net worth individuals to donate more since they will already have proof of the effectiveness of their gifts. Musk, the world's richest man, donated about 5 million shares of Tesla stock worth roughly $5.7 billion at the time to an unidentified charity in November. Beasley told AP on Monday that his message wasn't just to Musk and Bezos, but to other billionaires, too. "The world is in real serious trouble. This is not rhetoric and BS. Step up now, because the world needs you," he said.

(More World Food Program stories.)

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