AMNA NAWAZ: The causes of global hunger are many and well-known, conflict, climate, and, in too many cases, cruelty.
But it is the job of the United Nations' World Food Program to push through those barriers to feed hundreds of millions of people in need.
Its executive director the last six years is David Beasley, under whose leadership the WFP won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.
He leaves the post early next month.
David Beasley joins us now.
And welcome back to the "NewsHour."
It's always good to see you.
DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director, World Food Program: Amna, always good to see you.
Thank you very much.
AMNA NAWAZ: As you well know, in your time at the helm at WFP, you visited dozens of countries.
You have seen firsthand as the global hunger crisis has only worsened.
In the Horn of Africa, we now know millions of people are facing famine.
Years of war and the U.S. departure from Afghanistan have led to widespread hunger there.
The war in Ukraine has further fueled all of this.
Is it fair to say there is more work for the agency to do in more places now than when you began?
DAVID BEASLEY: Amna, when I took this role six years ago, there were 80 million people marching towards starvation.
And I literally thought that we could put the World Food Program out of business because we could end severe food insecurity around the world.
Unfortunately, because of conflict after conflict, climate shocks, COVID economic disruption, Ukraine, and the list goes on, it's only getting worse and worse.
And now we're reaching over 160 million people on any given day, week and month.
And that number of 80 million is now 345 million people marching towards starvation.
And it's going to get worse because of food inflation, devaluation of the currency.
And I could go on and on.
The next 12 months are really going to be tough on the entire planet.
Eight billion people are going to be struggling if we don't resolve some of these issues now.
AMNA NAWAZ: As you prepare to leave this post, folks have been looking back at your time at the helm, and some have called you the money magnet, because the WFP raised $6 billion in the year that you took office.
Last year, that had more than doubled to over $14 billion.
Over your six years, they have raised a total of $55 billion.
That is astonishing.
So how did you do it?
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BEASLEY: Well, you see Democrats and Republicans in the United States, for example, fighting over everything, but, when it comes to food security, it's like the miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue.
On both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Republicans and Democrats have come together, because they understand the significance of bringing peace through food security around the world.
And, quite frankly, had we not spent that money, Amna, I can assure you that the cost would have been 1,000 times more because of not just starvation, but mass migration that would have resulted in destabilization of nations.
So it's money well spent to bring people hope in times of hopelessness.
And so we can't back down now.
Otherwise, you will pay a lot more.
AMNA NAWAZ: That's money from lawmakers and governments.
You have also been publicly calling for more of the world's richest people, individuals, to step up and do, as you say, what they have the power and the means to do.
You specifically even called out Elon Musk and said: I can help you spend that money.
You can end world hunger.
I have to ask you.
As you're preparing to step away, you have spoken to many of these people face to face.
What is it that you think is keeping them from acting in this way?
DAVID BEASLEY: I think it's several things.
I do think the problems we're facing around the world are quite extraordinary.
But, as I tell them, look, there's $400 trillion worth of wealth around the planet today, and your charity is not the long-term solution.
But we are in a crisis mode right now, and we need your help.
But, number two, I need your engagement.
Work with us to end hunger around the world.
You're putting rockets in space.
You have got Apple phones and iPhones and technology that's doing all these remarkable things now.
Let's use that ingenuity, so that we end starvation and hunger around the planet.
That's what I want you to do, because, working together, we can solve this problem.
And when you have got $400 trillion worth of wealth on the planet and the fact that anyone dies from hunger, a child, shame on us.
We can do better than this.
AMNA NAWAZ: Cindy McCain, the current U.S. ambassador to U.N. agencies in Rome, and, of course, the widow of the late senator John McCain, will be taking over for you.
What is one thing you wish you had known when you began that you have been able to offer her in the way of advice or guidance?
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, it's a heck of a commitment.
It really is.
This is not a 9:00-to-5:00 job.
It's seven days a week.
And Cindy and I have been working together tirelessly already.
Our transition teams are working together, so she hits the ground running.
There was so much that I didn't know.
And she comes in and actually knowing a lot more than I did when I came in.
And so I have no doubt that she will be able to take the reins and move the operation forward in a way that's needed.
I did what I needed to do for six years.
And I have no doubt she's the right person at the right time at a time like this.
And she has a capacity to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States.
We also get great support from Canada and other nations in the neighborhood, so to speak.
So she will be -- she will be tested in a lot of ways, but I have no doubt she will be able to do it.
As I have told her, stay focused.
Don't let the noise distract you.
Stay focused on what the poorest of the poor and the vulnerable people need.
And that will be a victory.
AMNA NAWAZ: David, I have got less than a minute left, but I have to ask.
Your background was in politics before you took this job.
You were, of course, South Carolina's governor in the '90s.
Do you see yourself going back into public office?
DAVID BEASLEY: Well, I have got two more weeks in this job.
I'm going to stay focused on doing -- doing that.
And then I'm looking forward to going home.
I have got now three grandchildren that I have really not spent any time with in the last couple of years.
So, I'm looking forward to spending some time.
And we will see what happens from there.
AMNA NAWAZ: We will see what happens, indeed.
In the meantime, David Beasley, the outgoing executive director of the World Food Program, thank you for joining us.
Always good to see you.
DAVID BEASLEY: Thank you.
Good to see you.