World Food Program USA at SXSW

2° from Disaster

The global hunger crisis is inextricably linked to the climate crisis. No one understands this better than the United Nations World Food Programme, who works on the frontlines every day supporting communities impacted by climate shocks. At South by Southwest 2023, World Food Program USA hosted a lively conversation to examine how climate shocks are driving hunger worldwide and the cutting-edge solutions that the U.N. World Food Programme and partners like Google are deploying to empower communities on the brink.

U.N. World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador and Emmy and James Beard-award winning chef Andrew Zimmern moderated a discussion withGernot Laganda, Chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction at the U.N. World Food Programme; Alex Diaz, Head of Crisis Response & Humanitarian Aid for; and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Special Advisor at the U.N. World Food Programme.

The 3-part conversation discussed the scope of global hunger, particularly those at risk of famine; what technology and innovative solutions are being deployed to combat the effects of extreme weather on the most vulnerable communities; and how we can all do our part to build lasting and sustainable solutions.

Zimmern kicked off the conversation with a sobering stat; today, 1 in 10 people worldwide face severe hunger and our warming climate is putting millions more at risk every day. If average global temperatures rise by just 2°C, 189 million additional people will be at risk of hunger. Ironically, communities that contribute the least to the climate crisis are most affected.

Extreme weather events displace people from their homes, kill livestock, destroy vital infrastructure and farmland and often increase food prices. Communities are then cut off from reliable sources of food, farmers can no longer grow crops and families cannot afford basic meals. What’s worse, once communities slowly start to rebuild, they are often knocked down yet again by another climate-related disaster.

In a call to action for global citizens, Nyamayaro spoke to the moral responsibility we all carry to fight the impact of climate change, reminding us that those who contribute the least to the crisis remain the most impacted.

 “We all have a role to play in this,” said Nyamayaro. “It is no longer charity to support those in need, it’s a moral responsibility because we’re all part of creating the problem. Therefore, we have a moral obligation to be a part of the solution.”

The climate crisis is one of the greatest threats to humanity and is a key driver of global hunger. We cannot end hunger without addressing the impact of extreme weather.

While addressing the severe reality of our climate emergency, Laganda said he finds hope within the systems the World Food Programme has built that could be expanded upon to meet the increasing needs of those impacted by extreme weather. Laganda recognized that extreme weather differs from something like the conflict in the Ukraine. “We know whether we will have an El Niño in three to four months or not, we know how heat waves roll out or floods or storms,” said Laganda. “So, the idea here is that we combine several elements in our program to build action plans before the disaster strikes.”

Laying out a three-part strategy, Laganda discussed how we can build better response systems for climate extremes:

First, restore the natural ecosystems that are the physical and landscape-based protection for people. Second, anticipate the need by providing access to early warning systems, weather forecasts, and climate information. Finally, adding layers of financial protection, either through a publicly run social protection system, a climate risk insurance program or some pre-positioned financing that you put aside so that when one of these early warning triggers fires, you immediately have financing that you do not need to raise beforehand and you can already transfer that that funding to people.”

Alex Diaz’s spoke about’s longstanding relationship with the U.N World Food Programme. Last year, issued a three-million-dollar grant trying to build weather forecasting capabilities. From east Africa to Indonesia, has partnered with the U.N World Food Programme to give vital information to policy makers regarding the climate crisis and how to prepare their agricultural infrastructure. Weather warnings are important because they are used to protect life and property. One of the most impactful partnerships between the World Food Programme and has focused on developing an early weather forecast system. This system would alert countries across the globe to extreme weather risks prior to the storms. This development is monumental for communities as it would give people time to prepare for disasters, drastically decreasing the impact of extreme weather.

Alex Diaz went on to call on corporations to prioritize community responsibility by making room at the table for every individual impacted by the climate crisis. “By embarking on new projects, we want to put our voices, our capital, our people behind the most important problems of our day – how can we start to get smart on this? We must convene the local community players that need to be at the table when these solutions are being developed. We are corporate citizens; we live in this world. Our employees, and our users, live all over the world and we have a vested interest in making sure that we can be contributing to a better tomorrow.”

Through collaboration, the public and private sectors are co-creating and implementing climate-smart solutions that stabilize not only food systems but local communities and economies as well. Zimmern closed out the panel with a promise of hope, “I believe in the power of human beings to solve this problem. I’ve seen the solutions.” Zimmern ’s extensive fieldwork has shown him the resilience of humanity, the work of the U.N. World Food Programme and the power of hope.

To learn more about these issues, check out our full SXSW event recording:

2° From Disaster  


The Weeknd Named Goodwill Ambassador

for United Nations World Food Programme

At a private reception in Los Angeles, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) inducted its newest Goodwill Ambassador, multi-platinum and diamond certified Grammy Award© winning artist Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye. The Weeknd, joining fellow U.N. World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassadors Kate Hudson and Michael Kors, will use his voice and platform to advocate for ending global hunger.

The Weeknd has been a passionate advocate and generous supporter of humanitarian causes throughout his career, with over $3 million in donations to various organizations in the past year. Most recently, he donated $1 million to the U.N. World Food Programme’s relief efforts in Ethiopia following months of deadly violence in northern Ethiopia. As the son of Ethiopian immigrants to Canada, the conflict deeply impacted him, and ultimately this moved him to deepen his relationship with the U.N. World Food Programme.

WFP USA President & CEO Barron Segar. Photo by WFP USA.

World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar offered welcoming remarks, praising The Weeknd’s commitment to advocating and helping the world’s hungriest people:

“Abel is one of the most incredible voices we will ever see around the world for those who go hungry every night.”

U.N. WFP Executive Director David Beasley.(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for U.N. World Food Programme)

U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley came to the stage to share about the current global hunger crisis:

“We are reaching now a crisis point unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s hard to believe that the world doesn’t know about this…43 nations with 42 million people literally in more trouble than we’ve ever seen since World War II.”

Introducing The Weeknd as the newest Goodwill Ambassador, Executive Director Beasley pointed out:

“Why is today important? Because we’re going to wake up and shake up the world and the world leaders. And we need a superstar, a Super Bowl hero, to come out and be our superhero…We need someone like The Weeknd to help wake up the world, with passion, that will come and help deliver that message.”

two men speaking on blue stairs
U.N. World Food Programme’s David Beasley said he was ‘thrilled’ to welcome The Weeknd.
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

As Abel walked up to the stage to receive his official letter designating him as a Goodwill Ambassador, Executive Director Beasley said to him, “We need your heart. We need your voice. You’re going to help us save millions of people around the world. Thank you.”

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Josette Sheeran, WFP USA CEO Barron Segar, President & Co-Founder of Islamic Relief USA Anwar Khan, U.N. WFP Executive Director David Beasley, The Weeknd, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, PepsiCo Foundation VP & Global Head of Philanthropy C.D. Glin, and U.N. WFP USA Board of Directors Rima Fakih attend the U.N. World Food Programme as it welcomes The Weeknd as a Goodwill Ambassador on October 07, 2021 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for U.N. World Food Programme)

Distinguished event guests included former U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran and World Food Program USA Board members philanthropist Rima Fakih Slaiby, chef and television personality Sandra Lee, President of Islamic Relief USA Anwar Khan, and eBay Chief Compliance Officer Molly Finn.

Wheatfields to the World: Oregon

Hunger & Humanitarian Aid

For more than 50 years, the United States has led the world in support for international food security programs. The U.S. was instrumental in creating the United Nations World Food Programme—2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the largest hunger-relief humanitarian organization—in the 1960s and today is its largest government donor. We’ll explore the U.S. legacy of food aid and anti-hunger advocacy, why it matters, and the dynamic role that American agriculture, particularly Oregon’s wheat industry, plays in helping to combat both domestic and global hunger. Join us as we welcome Rebecca Middleton, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, World Food Program USA; Amanda Hoey, CEO of the Oregon Wheat Growers Commission/Oregon Wheat Growers League; Jeremy Everett, founder and executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty for a rich and engaging discussion about global and domestic food insecurity and Oregon’s contributions to aid, hunger-relief, and the global food supply.

Event will focus on the American legacy of humanitarian aid, and the pivotal role that U.S. agriculture, particularly Oregon’s wheat producers, play in supporting international food assistance.


  • Rebecca Middleton, World Food Program USA, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer
  • Amanda Hoey, Oregon Wheat Growers Commission/Oregon Wheat Growers League, CEO
  • Jeremy Everett, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, Founder and Executive Director

The Dry Corridor:

Climate Change & Hunger in Central America

Santa Fe Council on International Relations

The people of Central America’s Dry Corridor—comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua—are fighting for their survival against the shocks of climate change and the pandemic’s fallout. Extreme weather events—including hurricanes, torrential rain, flooding, as well as months-long droughts—have devastated communities and disrupted food production, especially staples like maize and beans which depend on regular rainfall. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, the number of hungry Central Americans has quadrupled over the last two years to 8 million people—with 1.7 million requiring urgent food assistance for their survival. Join our expert panel as we explore the impact of climate change in Central America, the state of food insecurity there, and how the U.N. World Food Programme and others are supporting communities and building resilience to climate shocks.


  • Chase Sova, World Food Program USA, Senior Director of Public Policy and Thought Leadership
  • Kate Milliken, United Nations World Food Programme, Regional Climate  Change  Adviser, Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Ambassador Carlos Fuller, United Nations, Permanent Representative of Belize to the UN

Global Minnesota

World Food Day Conference

Working Together for a World Without Hunger

David Beasley, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme  (2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)

Introduction by Martha (Muffy) MacMillan, Board Chair, Global Minnesota

Food Safety and Security in the Midst of COVID-19 and the Climate Crisis


  • Amer Daoudi, Senior Director of Operations, United Nations World Food Programme
  • Ruth Petran, Senior Scientist, Food Safety and Public Health, Ecolab
  • Mike Ryan, Executive Director, World Health Organization Emergencies Program
  • Moderator: Mark Ritchie

Policy Roundtable

Food Loss

In Sub-Saharan Africa, millions of subsistence farmers depend on small plots of land to grow the food they need to survive. Unfortunately, up to 40 percent of all the crops they harvest are ruined during storage.

Johnson Kagoye
Johnson Kagoye, WFP government partnerships officer.

On April 17, 2019, WFP USA convened a group of stakeholders in policy, the private sector and humanitarianism to meet with Johnson Kagoye, WFP’s government partnerships officer in Uganda, for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill about the cause, effects and solutions to the problem.

For the past five years, Johnson has overseen one of WFP’s most successful anti-food-loss projects: The Post-Harvest Loss Reduction Initiative. What started as plastic containers from local soda processing plants were turned into air-tight storage containers that keep out rodents, bugs and mold. The containers have revolutionized food storage, keeping crops fresh for months on end and cutting post-harvest losses to less than 2 percent. Johnson detailed how private sector partners helped bring the solutions to scale:

We now have three different types of storage technologies to offer farmers: airtight bags, plastic silos and metal tanks…Now, five years on, we’ve reached 325,000 participants in Uganda alone.”

Johnson detailed the wide-ranging benefits that improved storage has brought to individuals and their communities including participation by women, increased food security and farmers able to sell their surplus crops in local markets.

What’s next?

Our goal is to reach 100 million households,” said Johnson. “In the meantime, we’re doing what we can to work with the private sector to continue to get funding and infrastructure support to move this program forward. But I’m excited that we’ve already made a difference in the lives of thousands of families – and about the potential of this project to further create a more sustainable and hunger-free future.”

See the Silos in Action



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