I had the privilege yesterday evening of spending an hour in the cold taking part in the launch of the Enough Food for Everyone…IF campaign. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but I expect it will soon end up being called IF. Anyway, there were a bunch of famous people giving their backing to it with a visually impressive presentation and the media did take notice of it despite David Cameron’s EU speech dominating the day’s news.
Now the hard work begins explaining what this campaign is trying to achieve and what we as members of the public should be doing about it. If you want to know why I think everyone should be getting behind it and especially Christians and churches, then please have a look at my previous post. Rather than doing my best to explain what IF is, I’ve asked Laura Taylor who is Head of Tearfund’s Policy Team if she would let me publish her post from Tearfund’s excellent Just Policy blog and she’s kindly agreed. Tearfund are heavily involved with IF, so it’s good to get the news straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Please have a read and then go and sign up to become a supporter at the Enough Food For Everyone IF website. We have a real chance to improve the lives of hundreds of millions round the world if we can get our leaders to agree to act.
I’m incredibly excited by the number of organisations (102 at last count) that have come together to launch the IF campaign today. It is an undeniable scandal that while the world produces enough food for everyone, 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every night.
Of course, fixing a broken food system is no easy task and it would be wrong to over-simplify. But those working on the campaign have developed what I believe is a compelling narrative of the big changes which are not only vital but are also politically achievable in 2013, to mark this year out as the year that saw the beginning of the end of world hunger. So, what are we calling for?
This is not about seeking new pledges, but about making sure that world leaders – including in the UK – stick to the promises they have already made. In the UK this would mean Chancellor George Osborne using his budget statement in March to confirm that the UK has finally met it’s promise to spend 0.7% of national income – less than a penny in the pound – on aid. It would also mean Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, and others, showing real leadership to make sure that the new sources of cash promised to help farmers in developing countries adapt to climate change are actually delivered. There’s a neat little animation showing why we think a new shipping fuel levy could be one way to do this.
And we have to make sure that more of this money is invested in helping poor farmers to grow more and to tackle malnutrition – something that the G8 leaders could easily commit to when they meet in the UK in June.
Of course aid on its own is never going to be enough to get to the heart of the problem. We really want to tackle the root causes too. We want to stop tax dodging by multinational companies, so they pay more tax in poor countries where they operate and poor countries’ governments can spend it on tackling poverty. The Prime Minister has already said that he wants the G8 to discuss tax this year, but we want to make sure that the commitments they make are ambitious and are put into action. Specifically, we’re calling for a new Convention on Tax Transparency, and we’re calling for tighter rules in the UK too.
People like you and I, all around the world, need to know that governments and companies are up to so that they can hold them to account. As Tearfund we’ve recently been calling on laws for oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to governments so that ordinary people can follow the money and make sure it’s spent on tackling poverty as the churches we work with around the world have told us that this would make a real difference. We’re calling on the G8 to go further and to increase transparency in more sectors, and to encourage more governments to put details of their tax income and their budgets out in the open. Again, David Cameron has indicated he is up for this but, as always, the devil is in the detail.
IF we see real progress in these areas, we’re not pretending we will see an end to hunger overnight. But it will help us to move beyond the public debate on whether giving aid is a good or bad thing and get a good debate going on what the role of the UK is in tackling the root causes of hunger and could make 2013 the year where the tide started to turn.
There is a full report which sets out these asks in more detail and has case studies of what these changes would mean in practice. Well worth dipping in if you get a moment. We’ll be blogging on these issues over the course of the next few months and there will be plenty of ways for people to get involved. Bring it on….