It all begins with a question: why, in a world that produces more than enough food to feed everybody, do so many – one in seven – go hungry?
GROW, launched today in 35 countries around the world, is the latest campaign from Oxfam that aims to transform the way we grow, share, and live together to ensure that everyone has enough to eat – always.
Global food prices are in line to more than double within 20 years as a new age of crisis forces the collapse of our broken global food system; of food price spikes and oil price hikes; of scrambles for land and water; of creeping, insidious climate change.
The 2008 spike in food prices pushed some 100 million people into poverty. Price rises since June 2010 have done the same to 44 million more –equivalent to almost the entire population of Spain.
It is all too easy to forget that behind these shocking statistics lie millions of tragic individual stories of suffering as families struggle to cope with spiralling food prices, fall into debt and are left with no money to send their children to school or treat them when they get sick.
Europe is guilty on this count: like most industrialised countries, its leaders have placed short-term benefits of big business over the interests of taxpayers and hungry people. Unregulated European financial markets continue to reward investors speculating on food prices with soaring returns, while many cannot afford to feed themselves.
Despite mounting evidence against it, the EU is continuing its flawed biofuels policy that has already fuelled waves of evictions and land grabs in developing countries. Meanwhile, the EU continues to drag its feet in international negotiations to tackle climate change – the greatest challenge of all to global food security.
Europe, as a result, is still sleepwalking as the world enters into an unprecedented and avoidable reversal in human development. Decades of progress in the fight against hunger are rapidly becoming undone.
But it is not too late to wake Europe up and open its eyes to its profound responsibilities. As the world’s largest economy, the world’s biggest aid donor, and an aspiring leader in the fight against climate change, the European Union has an important role to play in delivering food justice in a resource constrained world.
Let’s make sure that it fulfils this important role.
Oxfam’s EU office will be working to ensure that EU policies and practices affecting the world’s poor have a greater impact on those most in need.
The GROW campaign is already supported by high profile figures including former President Lula of Brazil, Archbishop Emeritus Tutu and Jean Ziegler, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
Join us on Twitter at @OxfamEU.