London 2012 Artistic Director and Oscar winner Danny Boyle made an impassioned plea for G8 leaders to end world hunger at the Big IF London today (Saturday 8th June). The film director was joined on stage by philanthropist Bill Gates as 45,000 people descended on Hyde Park to demand G8 leaders tackle the causes of hunger.
The mass demonstration of public support, organised by Enough Food For Everyone IF (a coalition of over 200 UK organisations), marks the start of a 10 day countdown to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, 17-18th June.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury and Chair of Christian Aid Rowan Williams also addressed the 45,000 strong crowd, as did a number of activists from developing countries and high profile supporters including actor David Harewood and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinksy. The event was hosted by Myleene Klass and Gethin Jones and specially recorded messages from David Beckham, John Bishop, Miranda Hart and Eddie Izzard were also broadcast to the crowd. There were also musical performances from Grammy Award winning singer Angelique Kidjo and Lucy Rose.
Celebrities and the public alike helped to create a huge visual petition at the event to demonstrate the scale of public support for the IF campaign. The petition was made up of 250,000 spinning flowers, their petals representing the millions of children who die because of malnutrition each year – lives that can be saved if world leaders take action at the G8.
Danny Boyle addressed the crowd with: “Anyone who says that we can’t crack the hunger crisis is wrong. This is my dream – it’s a passionate dream – that in Olympics to come there will be no-one dying of hunger in any of the countries whose wonderful flags wave in the wind. And it is a fight that will be won. We expect our government and other world leaders to fight with all the energy and cunning and determination of Chris Hoy and Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins – to fight and fight and fight to end Hunger until they win.”
Bill Gates, who spoke at the event, said: “The great travesty of our time is that one in eight people do not have enough to eat. If babies do not get the right nutrition in the first 1000 days of their life, they will never be able to achieve their full potential.
“Providing developing countries with the means to feed their people is a vital part of lifting these communities out of the cycle of hunger and poverty. This is particularly critical as we await the G8 later this month.”
The IF campaign is calling on the G8 to take three big steps towards ending hunger:
- Clamp down on tax havens and launch a convention on tax transparency to stop the flow of billions of pounds out of developing countries – money that could be used to end hunger.
- Help poor countries make sure that everyone, especially children, have enough nutritious food to eat and support poor families to grow their own food.
- Give people in developing countries more control over their land by protecting poor farmers from land grabs and using land to grow food not fuel.
The Big IF London event followed the ‘Hunger Summit’, which was co-hosted by the UK government and agreed – a plan to save the lives of 1.7 million children.
David Bull, Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign spokesperson, said: “The Prime Minister has today put the scandal of under-nutrition firmly on the map. This is a turning point in tackling what is the biggest killer of children worldwide.
“If today’s promises are delivered they could save the lives of almost two million children – an historic breakthrough in the fight against hunger. We now need to ensure that donors stump up the cash as quickly as possible, hungry children can’t wait.
“Today is an impressive start to the G8 period and the commitments made today will change millions of lives. It shows what can happen with clear leadership.
“David Cameron and his fellow leaders must now focus on getting an historic breakthrough on tax dodging and land grabs at the G8 which deny poor countries the resources they need to feed their own people.
“A G8 deal on tax and land which helps poor countries is badly off track. The Prime Minister must urgently intervene in the next week to turn this around.”
Around the world, nearly one in four children under the age of five do not have enough of the right food to eat. Investing in nutrition is absolutely critical to helping countries develop, as well as being the right thing to do to save people’s lives. Hungry children grow up to be adults who simply cannot fulfil their potential in life.
Currently, 1 in 8 people across the world do not have enough food.