Last week, 100 UK charities came together to call for an end to global hunger. The project, “IF”, is based on the premise that there is enough food in the world for everyone, so no-one should go hungry. It presents the statement “enough food for everyone IF…”.
It is hoping to influence policy at the G8 meetings in the UK in the summer, when the most powerful people in the world will come together.
It cites statistics that one billion people go to bed hungry every night and two million children die from malnutrition every year.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I support the aims of the campaign, which are to persuade world leaders and big businesses to agree policies to end world hunger. To be perfectly honest, how can anyone not agree that – in principle at least – it’s a good idea?
But global campaigns like this don’t have a great track record of success. Does anyone remember Make Poverty History? It launched in 2005 to…well, to make poverty history.
Part of the campaign involved getting governments of wealthy countries to “Drop the Debt” owed to them by developing countries on the basis that debt repayments were crippling poor economies and preventing economic growth.
Twenty years before that, Band Aid and Live Aid wanted to “Feed the World”.
The problem seems to be that these campaigns attract a lot of initial support. People sign petitions, make donations and spread the word, but the solutions remain in the hands of politicians.
The recent Europe debacle led by our Prime Minister is a great example of the extent to which governments are out for themselves and unwilling to co-operate on a significant scale. If the UK government is unwilling to play a full and equal part in the European Union, how can we possibly expect the eight wealthiest nations in the world to agree policies that will solve global hunger?
I can almost imagine the negotiations. A proposal is made and immediately the leaders are demanding concessions. How can they agree to as little as possible while looking generous and agreeable?
So I hope IF has a lot of success. I hope governments and businesses agree to policies that will stop one billion people going to bed hungry every night and two million children dying of malnutrition every year. I hope we don’t hear excuses about financial crises and budget deficits and instead hear a real commitment to fulfilling the most basic need of the world’s inhabitants.