Concern's Tom Arnold at G8 SumitWednesday, May 23rd, 2012
As the nations of the G8 debate the latest in the global economic crisis, Concern Worldwide is urging the G8 to renew its commitments to combat hunger and poor nutrition.
“The fight against hunger is at a critical crossroads. We have never had as much knowledge, political will and grassroots engagement as we do today. We need to harness this to make malnutrition history. Despite this, almost one billion people do not have enough food,” Tom Arnold, chief executive Concern Worldwide, wrote in his blog.
He highlighted his visit to east Africa during the height of the drought that pushed 12 million people to the brink of crisis. “I had witnessed suffering and death caused by hunger before, but I was nonetheless shocked. We are at a point in human history when famine should no longer be in our vocabulary,” he wrote.
He suggests that President Barack Obama, as this year’s summit host, has a responsibility to ensure that world hunger and nutrition are on the agenda.
Concern has made a number of recommendations on how the G8 funds should be distributed, for example, a new way of fighting child malnutrition. Research shows that improving nutrition in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday can save the lives of one million children a year. According to Arnold, if this gets the support of governments around the world, we can make huge changes globally.
Another recommendation is that G8 nations should help low-income countries to tackle food insecurity and under–nutrition by investment in smallholder farms and support to alternative rural livelihoods.
In advance of his trip to the G8 summit, Arnold wrote in the Irish Times that Ireland, despite its size, is recognised as a global leader in tackling hunger and malnutrition. He urged the Irish government to speak out at EU and international level, and highlight the urgent need to address hunger and under-nutrition.
“Our presidency of the EU in the first six months of next year is an opportunity to show leadership when crucial final negotiations will be taking place on Europe’s budget for 2014-2020. We must stay on track to deliver on the UN target of investing 0.7 per cent of gross national income in overseas development by 2015. Within this, we must deliver on the commitment to invest 20 per cent of our aid budget in addressing hunger and nutrition. This is visionary and smart. It can be even smarter if it focuses on nutrition for children and their mothers,” he wrote.
Tom Arnold has spoken at three events around the 2012 G8 summit; on May 17 in Washington, DC and on May 21 in Chicago.
He also joined President Barack Obama as a speaker at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Third Annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on May 18 in Washington, DC.
Tom Arnold is chief executive of Concern Worldwide and was recently appointed to the Scaling Up Nutrition group led by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
by Ann Marie Foley