This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), which has been around since the early 1960s.
The organization is a leading humanitarian group that looks to improve food security across the globe.
In 2019, the WFP assisted approximately 97 million people in 88 different countries.
During a SACPA (Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs) conference on Thursday, WFP spokesperson Julie Marshall said she hopes this honour will raise awareness for the importance of the organization’s work, especially during a time when hunger is worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It shines a light on 690-million people who go to bed hungry every single day,” Marshall said. “It highlights the hard work and sacrifice of present and past WFP staff, who over the last 50 years, have really made the organization what it is.”
One of those integral employees was Lethbridge’s Trevor Page, who worked for the United Nations for 31 years. Born in England, Page lived and worked all around the world serving as head of mission in India and China, working through the civil war in Sudan, along with numerous other efforts.
Page said he was stunned and elated at the announcement.
“When I was working for the World Food Programme, I never thought that we would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,” he admitted. “We’re a food aid organization, not a peace-making organization.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee selects the winner of the prestigious award, and said the WFP was chosen “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”
“Conflict forces millions of people to abandon their crops, their homes, their jobs,” Marshall explained.
Page said there’s no way of eliminating conflict entirely, but by using their connection to food insecurity, there are ways of de-escalating it.
“We are able to get food to both sides of a conflict, and to get the rebels and governments to cease fire — not bomb our convoys — on the days that we’re able to get them to agree to give us free passage,” he said.
After retiring from the UN, Page served in India as the CEO of an American social-marketing company involved in reproductive health. He is still involved with the group, giving consultations and keeping up with the WFP’s work, and has been living in Lethbridge for the last 20 years.
The Nobel Piece Prize will be presented in December.