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Cindy McCain appointed next head of the UN World Food Programme

Currently serving as the United States Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome – which includes lifesaving food relief agency WFP – the wife of the late US Senator and Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, said in a statement, that she was “deeply honoured” to be appointed, noting that the agency has been “part of my life for decades”.

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Biggest food crisis ever

President of WFPs Executive Board, Artur Andrzej Pollok, Ambassador of Poland to the agencies in Rome, welcomed her appointment following a special session of the WFP board at their Rome headquarters, saying that she was taking over “at a moment when the world confronts the most serious food security crisis in modern history and this leadership role has never been more important.”

Ms. McCain is the former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. She has a long track record in non-profit and humanitarian work, having served on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E., CARE, Operation Smile, the Halo Trust and the advisory boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters.

“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time both in Rome and in the field, deepening my understanding of WFP’s vital work, and making sure it continues to grow to meet the needs of a hungry world”, said Ms. McCain. 

‘Incredible team’

“I can’t wait to work with the incredible team at WFP – their dedication and commitment to a better world is an inspiration to me, and to us all.”

She added that although “the road ahead is daunting, and hunger is on the rise”, she was confident that “when we come together as one world, we can save lives.”

She will take over from fellow American, David Beasley, who will have served six years when his term ends on April 4.

Announcing the appointment at the regular press briefing in New York, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General was “deeply grateful for his “important contribution and service” to WFP.

Ms. McCain, he said, was a “champion for human rights” who has “a long history of giving a voice to the voiceless through her humanitarian and philanthropic work.”

Rising food insecurity

“The increasing number of conflicts, climate shocks and economic turmoil have led to a sharp rise in the number of acutely food-insecure people struggling to get enough food to feed their families – up almost 200 million since before the coronavirus pandemic”, noted WFP in a press release announcing Ms. McCain’s appointment.

WFP provided more than 158 million people with food, cash and vouchers last year, more than in any previous year, and received a record $14 billion in funding, the agency noted.

In 2020, the emergency food agency was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

US Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome, Cindy McCain (centre), travels on mission with WFP in Kenya in March 2022.
© WFP/Arete/Patrick Meinhardt

US Ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome, Cindy McCain (centre), travels on mission with WFP in Kenya in March 2022.

Congratulations to Cindy McCain on her appointment as the next Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.

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