Campaign blog

ActionAid wins campaigning award!

Lotty Reynolds's picture Lotty Reynolds Campaigner

Wow, we’ve been awarded the (slightly geeky) European Public Affairs Award for best NGO!

The award was based on two of our campaigns:

The Vedanta campaign to stop a British-listed mining company from building a mine on the sacred Niyamgiri hills, home to thousands of tribal people.

ActionAid’s 6 Degrees Project, which aims to bring people from developed countries together with women in poorer nations. We are only ‘6 degrees’ – or 6 introductions - away from everyone else in the world.

Like all our work, both campaigns worked to give a voice to those affected by the challenges of poverty and discrimination, which was achieved by working in close coalition with our colleagues in other countries and communities on the ground. 

And it’s thanks to your support that we were able to have an impact. Whether you signed an action card, joined in online or took one of the many other routes to register your involvement, the action you take plays a crucial role in keeping the pressure on decision makers.

For more ways to make a difference, have a look at our action page and again a HUGE thank you for your help!

Zero meals per gallon

Emma Hughes's picture Emma Hughes Campaigns officer

The amount of corn it takes to fill a 4X4 with biofuel would feed a child for a year – that's 45 meals per gallon.

This staggering stat sums up why ActionAid is campaigning against industrial biofuels as part of HungerFREE. Using biofuels literally means putting poor people's food into rich people's cars – in a world where 1 billion are hungry this is lunacy.

ActionAid has estimated that current biofuel policies will push 600 million extra people into hunger by 2020, making them some of the main barriers to realising the right to food for all.

And if the impact on hunger wasn't catastrophic enough, there is also strong scientific evidence that industrial biofuels will be worse for the climate than the fossil fuels they are designed to replace. This is because of the large amount of fertilizer used in industrial production of biofuels and also the increased demand they create for land, which leads to the destruction of carbon-rich habitats.

We're going to be targeting the drivers behind the biofuel boom. The UK government is currently proposing to use industrial biofuels to meet their commitment to 10 per cent renewable transport by 2020 – turning what should be a tool of climate mitigation into an implement of disaster.

In January we'll be telling the UK government not to lock us into using industrial biofuels in our petrol.

Join us as we demand zero meal per gallon.

Climate Crunch Time

Eva Watkinson's picture Eva Watkinson Campaigns Engagement Manager

On 5 December, over 50,000 of you took to the streets to demand action on climate change. This was the biggest ever UK mobilisation on climate change. Thank you and well done! It was a fantastic day and sent a clear message to Gordon Brown and the ministers heading off to the most important climate change summit ever.

This week and next leaders from all over the world are meeting to agree how we are going to tackle climate change. Who is going to reduce their emissions, by how much, and the levels of funding developing countries will receive to cope with the effects.

The WaveThere has already been a bit of a furore over leaked documents that seemed to be proposing a deal where the cash would flow through the World Bank, rather than a UNFCCC fund. 

“The World Bank has a very poor record dealing with development and environmental sustainability,” said Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s climate change advisor, at the Copenhagen Summit. “It’s ironic it’s being suggested as the way forward.”

 “The World Bank is not a democratic institution and in the past, has often favoured rich countries. Where does that leave the least developed countries?”

It seems it will be a busy few days in the campaign for climate justice. Watch this space for more updates and ways to make your voice heard.

 

Photo: Amy Scaife/ActionAid.

What a waste!

Meredith Alexander's picture Meredith Alexander Head of Trade and Corporates

Looking for a perfect present for your favourite foodie? Need a gripping read for the bookworm in your family? Look no further than Waste by Tristram Stuart.

This is the practical book you need to help reduce the food you waste at home. My favourite tip is to keep lettuce fresh longer by storing it in water, like cut flowers. The author provides plenty of inspiration too. For example, UK households waste over 350,000 tons of potatoes a year. Cutting this number in half would free up fields that could grow enough wheat to lift 1.2 million people out of hunger. That is only a small slice of the billion people living in chronic hunger, but this is just UK potato waste. Add other nations and other crops and there would be enough food for everyone.

The choices you and I make in the kitchen every day contribute to food waste, but we are really only small potatoes. It is the big players in the UK food chain, especially the supermarkets, who have the most impact. A supermarket watchdog with the power to regulate their behaviour is one of the book’s recommendations. Join ActionAid’s Who Pays? campaign to help control supermarket power. A watchdog could not only reduce food waste, but it would also help people in poor countries who supply supermarkets get a fairer deal.

You can join the campaign in an instant. If you have a bit more time, join us on December 16 in London for a free lunch made entirely from food that would otherwise go to waste.

Where? Trafalgar Square, London

When? Lunchtime, 16 December

Let us know you're coming: email campaign@actionaid.org

Don't believe the hype

Meredith Alexander's picture Meredith Alexander Head of Trade and Corporates

Biofuels represent the triumph of hope over experience. Faith alone seems to be the driving force behind increasing production.

In rich countries, drivers hope that biofuels will ease their guilt over driving and maybe even flying. Governments hope that biofuels will help them meet targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without increasing hunger. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both counts. Biofuel production has already made millions more people hungry and scientific evidence that biofuel use can’t help stop climate change increases every day.

Biofuel myths are just as pervasive here in India. I’ve met farmers, business people and even government officials whose hopes for biofuels aren’t matched by reality. One businessman has invested tens of thousands of rupees in growing jatropha, a biofuel plant. In return, his income has been only 3,000 rupees. Despite this massive loss, he would try again.

Why is he so convinced? He has seen some extremely high income projections for jatropha based on completely unrealistic yield assumptions. More worrying are the farmers giving over vital land to jatropha. I’ve met people who have to spend more money to buy the rice or vegetables their family need to survive because they are growing jatropha. These people can’t afford expensive mistakes. So far, none of them have seen the kind of income they have been promised. Most have had no income from jatropha at all. But the myths surrounding the plant are so strong that some are willing to keep trying.

I’m here to do research about jatropha, but hearing from these farmers is making me want to take action. I’m looking for ways that ActionAid can help by spreading accurate information about biofuels to farmers in India. When I come back, I’ll be helping plan ways to bust the biofuels myths in the UK too. Watch this space!

Some good news from the World Food Summit

Alex Wijeratna's picture Alex Wijeratna Senior campaigner, policy and campaigns

Aside from country host Silvio Berlusconi, G8 leaders appeared to shun the World Food Summit in Rome last week.

Although the gathering was largely a disappointment for the 1 billion hungry people in the world today - there were no extra resources, or an ambitious commitment to end hunger by 2025 - one bright spot was to be found. This was agreement to strengthen and open up to farmers' groups and civil society organisations an important goverance body at the UN's main food and hunger organisation, known as FAO.

Leaders agreed to strengthen one part of the FAO, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and agreed the Committee will become the foremost UN/global political platform for dealing with food security and nutrition.

The plan is historic because people most affected by the food crisis will be allowed to formally participate in this new body - such as civil society organisations representing smallholder farmers, women, fisherfolk, landless, young people, urban poor, indigenous people and food workers.

Ensuring the voice of these people is built into this global governing body by right is a major breakthrough, and something ActionAid has been campaigning for with others in Rome over this last year or so.

In fact, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, says the reform of the CFS "is the single most important achievement of the international community to the [food] crisis, along with the renewal of pledges to reinvest significantly in agriculture and rural development."

All a bit tecky but basically an excellent bit of progress for smallholder women farmers!