In the Congress Hall, on the streets (where snow is piled three and four feet high) and in our tent – talk of hunger brings forward an odd mix of pessimism and resolve. The sense is that the economic downturn will be worse even than the forecasts – yet there is an eagerness to prevent hunger falling away as an issue. It's almost a fear.
The message that gets the most resonance is that hunger can mean civil unrest – that it is not just a humanitarian issue but one of national security. Heads were nodding last night when Josette and Kofi independently made that point.
Valerie Jarrett – special adviser to the new US president – told a group of about 100 gathered in the tent last night that President Obama (“It still feels good to say that," she quipped) is committed to the work of WFP.
A handful of business leaders from Fortune 500 companies said they expected giving from individuals to go up – even as broad corporate giving would be more difficult.
Policy makers from Donor countries emphasized that 2009 would be a make or break year as governments decide where to place hunger on the long list of priorities. And that’s very much the sense I have here in Davos . . .