OSLO, Norway — The United Nations’ World Food Program on Friday won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity around the globe.
The organization provided assistance to almost 100 million people in 88 countries around the world last year.
“I think this is the first time in my life I’ve been without words,” WFP’s head David Beasley told The Associated Press from Niger. “I was just so shocked and surprised.”
Beasley said he found out about the award from a WFP media officer who had just been informed by the AP.
The Nobel Committee said that the coronavirus pandemic has added to the hunger faced by millions of people around the world, and called on governments to ensure that WFP and other aid organizations receive the financial support necessary to feed them.
“With this year’s award, the [Committee] wishes to turn the eyes of the world to the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Nobel Committee, announcing the award in Oslo. “The World Food Program plays a key role in multilateral cooperation in making food security an instrument of peace.”
“The World Food Program contributes daily to advancing the fraternity of nations mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s will,” she said.
There was no shortage of causes or candidates on this year’s list, with 211 individuals and 107 organizations nominated ahead of the Feb. 1 deadline.
However, the Norwegian Nobel Committee maintains absolute secrecy about whom it favors for arguably the world’s most prestigious prize.
The award comes with a $1.1 million cash prize and a gold medal to be handed out at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death. This year’s ceremony will be scaled down due to the pandemic.
On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize for physiology and medicine for discovering the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus. Tuesday’s prize for physics honored breakthroughs in understanding the mysteries of cosmic black holes, and the chemistry prize on Wednesday went to scientists behind a powerful gene-editing tool. The literature prize was awarded to American poet Louise Glück on Thursday for her “candid and uncompromising” work.
Still to come next week is the prize for outstanding work in the field of economics.