April 2012


In this issue

Almost a billion people are hungry. And the effects on food production from drought and sudden spikes in prices for fuel and fertilizer can very quickly swell the numbers of people suffering from malnutrition. Further complicating the equation is a global population that will grow by a third, to 9 billion, by 2050.

Yet insufficient production is only part of the problem. Compounding it is fragmented and insufficient innovation, massive waste resulting from poor storage and distribution, and the complex and ever-growing effects of climate change.

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a 2011 speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute, “A hunger crisis is not solely an act of God. It is a complex problem of infrastructure, governance, markets, education. These are things we can shape and strengthen.”

IFC is responding to this call for a comprehensive approach to feeding the world. The private sector, working alone and in partnership with governments, is part of the solution. Private sector capital, skills, and technologies can have a big impact through increased innovation and efficiencies.

In this issue of Handshake, focused on public-private partnerships across the agriculture value chain, leading thinkers explore many different aspects of and solutions to food scarcity. These voices from industry, from nongovernmental organizations, from foundations, and from across the World Bank Group, bring to life the seriousness of the challenge ahead. These voices also inspire us, because working together, we can make survival more certain for a billion people around the world.

  • Lars Thunell Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer