I’m absolutely delighted to be able to talk to you today at the launch of this campaign. Alongside many people here, I have a deep admiration for Britain’s NGOs, and the vital work that you do.
Today I flew back from visiting Pakistan where I was able to see some of the fantastic development work NGOs and DFID are involved in, often facing real difficulties on the ground.
Britain is unique in the level of public support and concern that we show for our fellow citizens in the world’s poorest countries. I believe that this is something we should celebrate, and that the launch of today’s IF Campaign is a fantastic demonstration of that support.
No child should go to bed hungry
We are all here tonight because we believe that no child should go to bed hungry, no parent should wake up wondering how they’ll feed their child that day.
Most of us also feel shocked by the spectre of food waste that was highlighted last week. And yet the facts about hunger speak for themselves. Over 870 million people do not have enough food to eat and over 2 million children die needlessly every year from malnutrition.
I saw the devastating effects of malnutrition first hand when I went to a remote village in Turkana in Kenya at the end of last year. It was clear to me that it brutally robs children of their life chances and opportunities.
Yet the curse of hunger is not inevitable. More than ever, in today’s interdependent world, we have the opportunity to put an end to this.
We might at times differ on what we think the solutions are, but I believe that through working together, in the UK and with governments, the private sector, and civil society around the world, we can take the steps needed to eradicate hunger.
The UK’s track record is strong. By 2015 we have pledged to:reach 20 million pregnant women and children under the age of five with nutrition programmes, helping them to grow up strong and healthy; to help more than 6 million of the world’s poorest people escape extreme poverty; and to ensure another 4 million people have enough food to eat throughout the year.
By putting in place life-saving treatment and prevention programmes in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, we are helping to stop the irreversible and crippling effects of malnutrition.
But in 2013, Britain intends to go beyond this in our efforts to reduce global hunger. Not only will we be the first G8 country to meet our commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on development, but we will take forward three broader, potentially transformative actions:
First, as hosts of the G8 Presidency, our country will drive an ambitious agenda aimed at ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency.
We will use our Presidency to support open economies, open governments and open societies which will help deliver enterprise, economic growth and increased accountability.
And we will maintain the momentum behind the New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, strengthening its impact on agricultural growth in Africa. This could include doing more to empower women, and in particular to help them earn more from what they produce.
Secondly, building on the legacy of last year’s Olympic Hunger Summit, this summer we will hold a major event which will bring together leaders from across the globe, to tackle the neglected crisis of undernutrition.
Thirdly, through the Prime Minister’s role as co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, we will take a leading role in shaping the world’s approach to the future of development.
The battle to end hunger is central to the UK agenda in 2013 and beyond. With the help and momentum generated by the IF Campaign being launched today, we have a real chance to make this possible. Thank you.