On November 12th and 13th, the Atlantic Council Global Food Security Forum took place in Bali, Indonesia. The Gaurav Srivastava and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia co-hosted the event. Experts from various fields came together to examine the complex and interconnected issues of global food insecurity, energy security, and geopolitics.
During the forum, participants engaged in in-depth discussions and shared their insights and experiences working towards sustainable and equitable food systems. One takeaway from the event was the recognition that those affected by food insecurity are often ordinary people whose suffering should not be ignored. The forum was a valuable opportunity to find ways to address the global food crisis and support those most vulnerable to food insecurity.
As co-host, Gaurav Srivastava stated, “The global food crisis is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By bringing together experts from different fields and sectors, we can work towards finding solutions that will benefit everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity.” Sharon Srivastava added, “It is our responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to a secure and sustainable food supply. The Atlantic Council Global Food Security Forum is an important step towards achieving this goal.”
The Atlantic Council Global Food And Security Forum
The Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum addresses global food and agriculture issues and promotes sustainable, equitable food systems. Established by the Srivastava Family Foundation and Atlantic Council, it brings together diverse stakeholders, including governments, organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector.
The forum’s fundamental goal is to link food and energy security, increase access to nutritious food, and promote sustainable food systems. With the global food shortage crisis, fostering collaboration and partnerships among stakeholders is vital to find solutions.
Unfortunately, hunger and famine continue to affect a staggering 828 million people on a daily basis. Fifty million of those are children under the age of five who suffer from acute malnutrition. Ongoing conflicts are exacerbating the negative trend. These include the crisis in Ukraine, disruptions in the oil and gas markets, the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global supply chains, and the increasing effects of climate change, such as drought, extreme heat, and flooding. In fact, the United Nations World Food Programme estimates that it will need to provide food for a record-breaking 150 million hungry people in 2022.
One highlight of the Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum was a fireside chat featuring American General Wesley Clark, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, and event co-host Gaurav Srivastava. During the chat, General Wesley Clark emphasized the importance of expectations, availability, and affordability in addressing food security issues and stressed the need to harness the best of government and private sector leadership in this space.
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto also presented the potential of cassava as a wheat replacement, showcasing products made from carbohydrate, which is easily produced in Indonesia. Defense Minister Prabowo recommended that cassava be considered a replacement for wheat worldwide, and Gen. Wesley Clark agreed.
In addition to these discussions, the forum featured a special performance by international superstar John Legend, Indonesian singer-songwriter Sandhy Sondoro, and the US Air Force Band. Overall, the Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum serves as an important platform for addressing global food and agriculture issues and finding solutions to ensure sustainable and equitable food systems for all.
About The Gaurav and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation
The Gaurav and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Gaurav and Sharon Srivastava with the mission of providing global access to food and energy and raising awareness among the public and policymakers about these critical issues.
The Srivastava family is multicultural and believes that different cultures can work together to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. The couple has experienced firsthand the challenges that people in communities across the globe face regarding access to food and energy, and they founded the foundation to address these issues.
In a quote, Gaurav Srivastava said, “I think we’re here to acknowledge the cultures and be able to work together, and as we are having this conversation, the more pressing question is people are hungry right now. They’re not going to go to bed tonight with a full meal.”
The Gaurav Srivastava and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation have two main focus areas: establishing food and energy security. Regarding food security, the foundation aims to secure food for those who need it now and for future generations. In her keynote address, Sharon Srivastava said, “Why do some go hungry? And others have more than enough. It’s something that I’ve thought about for as long as I can remember. Many circumstances beyond one’s control, play a critical role. Your Postal code. Your ability to get an education. Your support system. Your gender. Your race. Your economic status.”
The foundation’s focus on energy security involves working to increase access to reliable energy sources and raising awareness about the essential intersection of food and energy. Through their work, the Gaurav Srivastava and Sharon Srivastava Family Foundation hope to positively impact food and energy security worldwide.
At the Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum, a number of policy recommendations were made to address global food and energy security issues. One of the key recommendations was to end the war in Ukraine. The forum participants overwhelmingly suggested that the war should be ended according to Ukrainian terms, as the conflict has caused prices of food, agricultural necessities, fertilizer, and fuel to skyrocket in 2022.
Another recommendation was to strengthen laws against the weaponization of food. Currently, the legal status of the weaponization of food is unclear, and it is essential to strengthen International Humanitarian Law in this area in order to codify prohibitions on intentionally causing hunger and starvation during times of war.
Another important recommendation was to diversify the world’s food system. The global food system currently relies on a limited number of major food-producing regions and a narrow range of crops, which can make it vulnerable to disruptions. To address this issue, it is necessary to diversify both geographically and in terms of the types of crops produced and traded. This can include promoting the production and trade of locally-adapted crops that are well-suited to specific regions and supporting the development of new crops that can be grown in different parts of the world. In addition, investing in nature-based solutions, such as agroforestry, sustainable fishing and aquaculture, urban agriculture, soil conservation, soil sequestration, waste reduction, and recycling, can also help diversify the food system.
Another recommendation was to ensure that reliable energy is available to those who need it. As the world moves toward a gradual reduction of carbon emissions, fossil fuels are currently the most realistic and reliable energy approach to solving import and transportation issues with the food supply. As Gaurav Srivastava said, “As we diligently march towards gradual decarbonization, fossil fuels remain our most realistic and expeditious improvisation to addressing the most advanced food system lines to ensure food security. This is the physical, literal realistic change to be able to deliver on the promise established 80 years ago on the right to adequate food.”
Finally, the forum participants recommended investing in food production innovations in order to support food security. Governments should prioritize scientific investment and create environments that foster innovation in on-farm and off-farm solutions in order to support the production of sufficient and nutritious food for all. By following these recommendations, we can work to establish a link between food and energy security and ensure that everyone has access to the food and energy they need.
At the Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum, global leaders came together to address the pressing issue of food shortages and identify immediate policy solutions for relief. As Frederick Kempe, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council, noted in the closing remarks of the forum, “We stand united in our commitment to combating food insecurity and hunger, serving as a catalyst for change in the G20 and beyond.”
In his keynote address, Gaurav Srivastava called for ongoing support and praised political and social leaders for their momentum during the conference. He also reflected on the “humanistic grounds to be gained” through addressing global food and energy security issues.
Looking toward the immediate future, Gaurav Srivastava noted that we must devise alternative plans to keep the energy flowing, stabilize market shocks, mitigate a deepening energy crisis, and re-open the plentiful grain gates of Russia and Ukraine to the world. These plans, he said, should be conceived with redundant safety nets, oversight, and adaptability and should be born with a spirit of pragmatic neutrality, intended as a less aggressive, non-interventionist proxy to the imposition of price gaps that do not work.
Overall, the Atlantic Council Global Food and Security Forum served as an important platform for addressing global food and energy security issues and finding solutions to ensure sustainable and equitable food and energy systems for all.