World Food Programme (WFP)

Interview

The call from Oslo, October 2020

“The world needs a good message right now”

Telephone interview with David Beasley following the announcement of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize on 9 October 2020. The interviewer is Olav Njølstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

“I believe what the committee have done today is to give recognition to the fact that we can’t ignore the poor, the needy and the vulnerable that are suffering around the world,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme in this conversation. In the call recorded immediately after the public announcement of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, Beasley describes how he heard the news: “Somebody walked in and said ‘The Nobel Peace Prize’ and I said ‘Yeah, what about it?’ And he said ‘We won!'”

Interview transcript


Telephone interview, October 2020

“No one in the world should go to bed hungry. No one”

Telephone interview with David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, immediately following the announcement of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Chief Scientific Officer at Nobel Media.

“We cannot forget our neighbour,” says David Beasley. In this conversation, recorded moments after he had been told of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize during a meeting in Niger, he suggests that the responsibility for eradicating hunger lies with “every leader on the planet” and that at an individual level “people will be shocked by how much difference that can make by just caring.” “God knows, the people in the World Food Programme deserve this,” he continues. “This is the type of recognition that I think inspires others to step up and help their brothers and sisters in need.”

Interview transcript

David Beasley: Hello?

Adam Smith: Hello, am I speaking with David Beasley?

DB: Yes, yes.

AS: Hello, my name is Adam Smith. I’m calling from the website of the Nobel Prize in Stockholm, Nobelprize.org.

DB: Hello, I’ve been in a meeting in Niger, they just walked in and told me, I was like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’.

AS: Well, it’s just been announced in Oslo.

DB: Wow.

AS: Many congratulations to the World Food Programme.

DB: Well, I tell you, it’s a … it’s amazing. I’m sorry, everybody’s so excited. We’re here at this meeting talking about conflict and problems in Niger, to get this news is just amazing. It really is amazing. God knows, the people in the World Food Programme deserve this, and holy mackerel! First time in my life I’ve been without words.

AS: As people hear the news of this prize during the course of the day what do you hope … What message do you hope it sends?

DB: Well, number one I think the message that we hope it sends to the world is we cannot forget about those that are suffering because of war and conflict and climate change … the millions of people whose lives are at risk, and the World Food Programme is dedicated, and committed, and this message, I think, is sending a message to the world that the international community feels the pain and suffering of those who are struggling around the world, and we cannot forget about them, and we must be committed to them, regardless of economic deterioration, regardless of COVID, regardless of circumstances, and so … My goodness … this is probably one of the first times in my life I’ve been without words. I’m so excited, I mean, it’s really unbelievable, wow, I mean, wow, wow, wow.

AS: Why in the twenty first century do you think so many people are still living in food poverty?

DB: Well, that’s the … that’s the heart break. With all the wealth in the world today, and with all the expertise and technology in the world today, no one in the world should go to bed hungry, no one. And the fact that today, in the world, that the hunger rate is increasing and the number of people on the brink of starvation is increasing is an indictment on humanity. We have to do better, and we will do better, and I think the World Food Programme is committed to singing that song, and helping hold the world accountable to be more strategic and more caring for those in need.

AS: Thank you. What can individuals do to help you, in your cause?

DB: Well, there’s several things that individuals can do. First is make certain that you help those in need in your own community. And number two: do not forget about those in other places around the world. And that could be financial support, whether to the World Food Programme or others, but also engagement. People will be shocked at how much difference they can make just by caring and stepping … just making one step forward, in many different ways.

AS: That’s beautifully stated. And, last question, whose responsibility do you think global hunger is?

DB: The responsibility for global hunger, and addressing it, belongs to every leader on the planet. Every leader. I mean from the wealthy nations to the impoverished nations. Impoverished nations to seek the help, the guidance, and to govern honourably, and responsibly, with care, and also the wealthy nations to care about your neighbour. We cannot … we cannot forget our neighbour. You will pay for it one way or another, so do it right on the front end. And quite frankly, with the billionaires right now making billions on COVID – they should step up right now in this catastrophic time. We’re facing a one-time catastrophe and the billionaires need to step up and make certain that every single human being on Earth doesn’t go to bed hungry, much less starve to death.

AS: It clearly means a lot to you that this prize has been awarded. You’re obviously very moved.

DB: You know, there’s no way I can express what this means. This is … this is overwhelming, it really is, and I’m not deserving of this award, but the many men and women that lay their lives on the line every day at the World Food Programme, they’re deserving of this award, for what they’re doing, and what they have done and what they’re going to do, and this is the type of recognition that I think inspires others to step up and help their brothers and sisters in need.

AS: Thank you very much indeed for speaking to us, thank you, and congratulations.

DB: Alright, thank you now, bye bye.

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To cite this section
MLA style: World Food Programme (WFP) – Interview. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Wed. 21 Oct 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2020/wfp/interview/>

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