Nobel Peace Prize awarded to World Food Programme

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 7:47 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:28 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

"This is the first time in my life I've been speechless!" says WFP executive director

From CNN's Hada Messia

David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme, reacted with joy and disbelief to the news of his organization's Nobel win.

"I can't believe it!" he told staff from Niamey, Niger.

6:05 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

WFP thanks staff for "putting their lives on the line"

The World Food Programme praised its staff after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, saying they "put their lives on the line every day."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization which had itself been a frontrunner for the award, praised the decision on Twitter.

"Huge admiration and respect for the life-saving work you do for people in need everywhere," he wrote.

Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, an ambassador for the agency, wrote that the WFP "is mainly a web of wonderful people from all around the world, doing their best to fight hunger."

5:57 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Agency warned of coronavirus famines of "biblical proportions" in April

Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley takes part in a panel discussion during the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum in Saudi Arabia on March 1.
Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley takes part in a panel discussion during the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum in Saudi Arabia on March 1. Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

The World Food Programme warned in April that the planet is facing multiple famines of "biblical proportions" in just a matter of months, with the coronavirus pandemic potentially pushing an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation.

Famines could take hold in "about three dozen countries" in a worst-case scenario, the executive director of the body said in a stark address. Ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation, he said.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley cited conflict, an economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices as factors likely to lead to vast food shortages, and urged swift action to avert disaster.

"While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic," Beasley told the UN's security council. "There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself."

The WFP had previously warned that 2020 would be a devastating year for numerous countries ravaged by poverty or war, with 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. Their updated projections nearly doubled that number.

Read more about the WFP's coronavirus warning here.

5:30 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

WFP thanks Nobels for "powerful reminder" on global hunger

The World Food Programme has thanked the Nobel Committee for its selection.

5:28 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Populism is threatening global organizations, Nobel chair says

Berit Reiss-Andersen made a pointed rebuke of populism as she answered questions from journalists about the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"When you follow international debate and discourse, it’s definitely a tendency that international institutions seem to be discredited more than, let’s say, 20 years ago," she said.

"It is part of populism that it has nationalistic flavor … everybody, every nation, supporting their own interests."

"When the UN was founded, it was exactly on a great emphasis on the universalism of the world," Reiss-Andersen added. "There also is a universal responsibility for the conditions of human mankind."

"If you ask anybody within the UN system, they will claim that it is harder these days to get the necessary financial support for the different activities of the different agencies," she said.

5:27 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

Committee calls on governments 'not to underfund' World Food Programme

A plane leased to the World Food Programme (WFP) makes a drop of food aid near a village in Ayod county, South Sudan, on February 6.
A plane leased to the World Food Programme (WFP) makes a drop of food aid near a village in Ayod county, South Sudan, on February 6. Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Honoring the World Food Programme with the 2020 Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee sent a message to governments around the world, pleading with them not to cut financial contributions to international humanitarian groups.

“This is also a call to the international community not to underfund the World Food Programme,” Berit Reiss-Andersen said,

"This is an obligation, in our mind, of all states of the world to ensure that people are not starving."

The organization has suffered from a drop in contributions in recent years, as countries including the United States lower funding for global organizations.

In 2017, its executive director David Beasley wrote: "This is my message to President Trump and his friends and allies. Proposed massive cuts to food assistance would do long-term harm to our national security interests."

"Multilateralism seems to have a lack of respect these days," Reiss-Andersen said on Friday. "The Nobel Committee definitely wants to emphasise this aspect."

5:19 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

'Food is the best vaccine against chaos,' committee chair says

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announces the laureate of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, on October 9.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announces the laureate of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, on October 9. Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/AFP/Getty Images

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee, noted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global food supplies as she revealed the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world," she said.

"In the face of the pandemic, the World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts."

"As the organization itself has stated: until the day we have a vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos," Reiss-Andersen said.

5:08 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

BREAKING: World Food Programme wins the Nobel Peace Prize

The UN's World Food Programme has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The initiative was created in 1961, and today provides food to over 90 million people a year.

It was honored "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict."

5:00 a.m. ET, October 9, 2020

HAPPENING NOW: Nobel Peace Prize winner announced

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the world's most coveted awards, is being announced in Norway, Oslo.

Follow along for live updates and reaction.