BERLIN—The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”
Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa, and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.
He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.