Elon Musk makes US$6 billion offer to help ease world hunger - with conditions

The head of the UN's food programme wants to meet with the billionaire to discuss.
The head of the UN's food programme wants to meet with the billionaire to discuss. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said he will sell some stock in the electric vehicle company to "solve world hunger", but only if the United Nations (UN) can explain how it would do so.

Musk, whose wealth jumped by US$36 billion in just one day last week, was responding to calls for him to donate a fraction of his wealth from David Beasley, executive director for the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

Beasley has been vocal about the need for billionaires - many of whom have made vast sums of money during the COVID-19 pandemic as the majority suffered - to step up and play their part.

"The world needs to wake up. We've got a global humanitarian crisis on our hands that is spiralling out of control. 42M people in 43 countries face famine NOW," Beasley tweeted.

"All we need is $6.6B - just 0.36 percent of the top 400 US billionaires' net worth increase last year. Is that too much to ask?"

According to Bloomberg, as of today Musk is worth over US$311 billion, up US$141 billion this year. 

Musk made replied to a tweet from AI and Deep Learning enthusiast Dr Eli David saying: "In 2020 the UN World Food Program (WFP) raised $8.4B. How come it didn't 'solve world hunger'?"

Beasley joined the thread, saying the current US$6 billion wasn't intended to 'solve world hunger' but was a one-time donation to save 42 million lives during an 'unprecedented' hunger crisis.

He also confirmed the US$8.4 billion in 2020 helped get food to 115 million people.

"We need $6B plus NOW on top of our existing funding requirements due to the perfect storm from the compounding impact of Covid, conflict and climate shocks," Beasley wrote.

In a sign that Musk may not have been totally serious about the gesture, the SpaceX CEO also made other demands, including that the accounting must be open source.

When Beasley then asked to talk, saying he could be on the next flight to meet him, Musk deferred insisting current and proposed spending had to be published in detail, publicly.

"Sunlight is a wonderful thing," he tweeted.

Beasley again responded, saying that with Musk's help "we can bring hope, build stability and change the future".

He also reiterated his request to meet with the billionaire.

"Instead of tweets, allow me to show you. We can meet anywhere - Earth or space - but I suggest in the field where you can see WFP's people, processes and yes, technology, at work. I will bring the plan, and open books."

Musk has not responded to Beasley's offer at the time of writing.

Musk donating US$6 billion out of his reported US$311 billion fortune would be the equivalent of a Kiwi on an annual salary of NZ$50,000 making a one-off donation of $964.