DAVOS, Switzerland — (AP) — The head of the UN’s World Food Program tells billionaires it’s “time to step up” as the global threat of food insecurity rises with Russia’s war in Ukraine, saying he has seen encouraging signs from some of the countries of the world. the richest people, like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
The agency’s executive director, David Beasley, relied on a social media back-and-forth he had with Musk last year, when the Tesla CEO challenged defenders of the policies to show how a $6 billion donation sought by the UN agency could solve world hunger.
Since then, “Musk has invested $6 billion in a foundation. But everyone thought it was coming to us, but we haven’t received any yet. So I’m hopeful,” Beasley told the Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in Davos. , Switzerland, where some of the world’s biggest elites and billionaires have gathered.
“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 bro.”
Musk and Bezos did not immediately respond to emails or other messages seeking comment.
Musk, the world’s richest man, donated about 5 million shares of the company worth about $5.7 billion to an unidentified charity in November, according to a regulatory file.
It came after Musk tweeted in late October that he would sell $6 billion worth of Tesla stock and donate the money to the World Food Program if the organization described how the money would solve world hunger. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing did not name a recipient for Musk’s donation.
Beasley told AP on Monday that his message is not just for these two high-profile tech mavens, but other billionaires as well.
“The world is really in big trouble. This is not rhetoric and BS Step up now because the world needs you,” he said.
Ukraine and Russia together export a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of its sunflower oil, while Russia is a major supplier of fertilizers whose price has jumped. Kremlin forces are accused of blockading Ukrainian ports, and the disruption of these affordable food staples threatens food shortages and political unrest in countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The threat to the world’s food supply has been a pressing concern for officials, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying last week he was in “intense contact” with Russia and other countries. and that he “hopes” for an agreement to allow the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports and to ensure that Russian food and fertilizers have unrestricted access to world markets.
If supplies from Ukraine remain off the market, the world could face a food availability problem in the next 10 to 12 months, and “it’s going to be hell on earth,” Beasley said.
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