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A make-or-break year ahead

The message that gets the most resonance in Davos is that hunger can mean civil unrest. (See our Davos page)

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 . . .