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Exploring Solutions to Global Food Insecurity: Insights from a Closed-Door Meeting Between Family Offices and the World Food Programme

At the center: Cindy McCain, World Food Program Executive Director, accompanied by the FOSD Australia network

The PVBLIC Foundation's Family Offices for Sustainable Development program (FOSD) and the World Food Program (WFP) recently held a closed-door meeting to discuss the urgent issue of global food insecurity. The FOSD brings together a select group of global prime-mover family offices committed to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal was to uncover insights, identify challenges, and find innovative solutions to address this pressing global crisis. The meeting included a captivating fireside chat between Cindy Hensley McCain, the World Food Program Executive Director, and Grace Mathew, the Managing Director of WeThink.Group.


Grace Mathew shared that in our increasingly turbulent world, it is crucial to deploy philanthropic resources strategically. She pointed out that private sector engagement with non-government organizations is essential to combat famine and food insecurity, which can spark civil unrest. This collaboration can create bespoke solutions to pave the way for global harmony.


Cindy Hensley McCain emphasized the alarming increase in agricultural vulnerability due to climate-related events like droughts and floods. These events have left twice as many nations grappling with food scarcity, with Africa bearing a significant brunt. The impact on agricultural production calls for swift and strategic interventions; however, obstacles persist. 


The World Food Program faces a significant fiscal gap of $15 billion, with an additional $25 billion required to fulfill global hunger needs. The need for robust transportation infrastructure poses a significant barrier to large-scale agriculture, hampering the efficient distribution of vital food supplies. The World Food Program also confronts challenges in transportation and commodity traceability. However, the organization has been proactive in implementing water resiliency projects. These initiatives include the creation of wells, dams, and flood-resistant infrastructure, bolstering resilience against climate change's adverse effects. 


Cindy Hensley McCain advocated for a deeper alliance between the private sector and the World Food Program. She urged family offices and businesses to transition from traditional grant-giving to capacity-building initiatives. Such programs facilitate sustainable transformation and create enduring change. McCain emphasized technological knowledge exchange between nations with similar climates, a strategy that could ignite transformative solutions. Grace Mathew mirrored McCain's enthusiasm, affirming that innovation is indispensable in crisis. She further emphasized that the private sector's role transcends philanthropy into innovation and expertise. Mathew believes leveraging expertise, networks, and capabilities could supercharge philanthropic efforts.

From left to right: Grace Mathew, Managing Director of WeThink.Group hosting a fireside chat with World Food Program Executive Director, Cindy McCain


During the meeting, family offices shared innovative strategies that showcase promise in tackling global food insecurity. One striking example was a B-Corporation investment that evolved from a charity initiative to a revenue-positive venture. Wall Street's growing interest in small-scale food-tech startups through increased Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments further accelerated this startup's remarkable growth.


Another family office shared their journey of diversifying investments beyond Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3). This holistic approach addresses health needs, especially in Small Island Developing Nations, offering valuable insights for overcoming multifaceted challenges. As the meeting concluded, select family offices expressed renewed dedication to reducing global hunger. The discussions, ideas shared, and united commitment emphasized the transformative potential of partnerships between the private sector and humanitarian organizations.


The closed-door gathering between family offices and the World Food Program emphasized the urgency of addressing global food insecurity amidst climate challenges. Cindy Hensley McCain's call for innovative collaborations and capacity-building resonated strongly, paving the way for a more sustainable, resilient, and harmonious future for all.

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