Good Things Happen Season 4Podcast21 May 2024

Good Things Happen, E5: Citi & The World Food Programme - Reaching a Zero Hunger World

Season 4

We live in a world where there is enough food to feed everyone on the planet. However, conflict, climate change, disasters, inequality and most recently – the COVID-19 pandemic mean one in ten people globally are still going to bed hungry and millions are living on the brink of famine.

Virginia Villar Arribas, Deputy Director of Private Sector Partnerships at the World Food Programme (WFP), joins the podcast to explain the drivers of food insecurity, the impact it has and what needs to be done to ensure hunger is a thing of the past.

Joining Virginia is John Finnigan, Head of Global Development Organizations for Public Sector Banking at Citi. John tells us how Citi is working with the WFP and the unique impact it is having as a global bank working in hard-to-reach locations.

The World Food Programme is the world’s leading humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity, for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.


Citigroup and the World Food Programme are not affiliated and are independent companies. Citi has provided services to WFP since 2005, and WFP also has a relationship with Citi Foundation. The speaker's views are their owner may not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or any of its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. The expressions of opinion are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results.

John Finnigan is the Head of Development Organizations in the Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory of Citi. Citi’s Development Organization clients include supranationals, development financial institutions, and non-government organizations. John leads a team of coverage bankers that provide financial services including capital markets, credit, treasury and trade solutions and investor services. These financial solutions help our Development Organization clients deliver on their mission of addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Prior to joining the Public Sector Franchise, John held a number of positions in Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions organization. In this previous role, he served as North American Head of Sales and Relationship Management for Commercial Cards and Payments supporting multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector clients.

John has more than 20 years of experience in banking and has an extensive background in servicing the complex needs of the Public Sector. Prior to joining Citi, John held a variety of sales and market development positions with The Bank of New York, US Trust and Commerce Bank. John completed The Bank of New York’s corporate credit training program following earning his Bachelor’s degree from The University of South Carolina.


Ms. Virginia Villar Arribas is the Deputy Director of the Private Sector Partnerships Division at the World Food Programme (WFP), based in Rome, since November 2020.
She joined from Burundi, where she had been Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme from Dec 2017 to Nov 2020. She had previously worked as Head of the OCHA Office (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) in Burundi, after a humanitarian coordination posting in Afghanistan as Deputy Head of the OCHA Office, dealing among other with Field Operations, as well as Communication and Advocacy.
Mrs. Villar had been UNRWA’s (UN Nations Agency supporting Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza) Chief of Donor Relations (2014-2016), leading the Agency’s strategy, development and implementation of relations with donors and resource mobilization. She had previously worked in the UNRWA Office in Lebanon, heading the Programme Support Office, supporting the planning, strategy and coordination of the Agency’s operations in the field (education, health, relief and social services, emergency). She led the development of a Mental Health and Psychosocial support strategy, as well as the mainstreaming of people with disabilities, gender and youth issues into the programmes. From 2010- 2013, she was the UNRWA Liaison Officer with the European Union in Brussels.
Before joining the United Nations and for a period of 10 years, Virginia Villar had worked in the European Union holding different capacities: Head of Operations of the EU mechanism for support to Palestinians (PEGASE) in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Geographical Coordination for the Near & Middle East (2006-2009); and Programme Manager for Twinning Operations (EU bilateral governmental cooperation in the areas of justice, energy, transport, border management and others) for Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia (2005-2006). From 2004-2005, Ms. Villar Arribas was responsible for EU assistance to Maghreb-Mashrek countries in the area of Justice, Liberty and Security.
Virginia Villar is a Spanish national. She has a background in Journalism (Bachelor of Arts) having studied in Spain and The Netherlands and holds Masters in International Studies (Diplomatic Academy of Spain) and International Relations (Complutense University, Madrid) as well as post Graduate Studies in Political Science and International Relations (University of Ottawa, Canada).



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