Caroline Lucas reported in her News bulletin in January that a new campaign was launched in Parliament called Enough Food For Everyone: IF, which aims to use this year’s G8 to focus attention on tackling the fact that one in eight people around the world go to bed hungry every night. Caroline said that she will be campaigning alongside groups like Oxfam, to ensure development and environmental issues are at the top of the agenda. The British Government is to host the next G8 Summit at a hotel and golf course complex at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on 17th – 18th June 2013.
The G8 is short for “Group of Eight – a group of rich, northern hemisphere, mostly white, countries. Membership of the Group is by invitation, its workings highly secretive, its decisions affecting the whole world.
The eight members in order of their rotating hosting responsibilities are: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada. Among G8 leaders to attend this year will be British Prime Minister David Cameron, United States President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since 1975, the heads of state or government of the major industrial democracies have been meeting to deal with the major economic and political issues facing their domestic societies and the international community as a whole. In the past, the G8 Summit has dealt with big issues like international trade, and relations with developing countries, questions of East-West economic relations, energy, and terrorism. The Summit agenda has now broadened considerably to include social issues such as employment and the information highway, transnational issues such as the environment, crime and drugs, and a host of political-security issues ranging from human rights through regional security to arms control.
While some say that G8 helps build personal relations and allows for quick co-ordinated responses to a crisis, G8 can also be seen as an exclusive and powerful club which defends and promotes free-market capitalism and Western style democracy. Many view it as an attempt at forced globalisation by the rich West and undemocratic because developing countries are excluded. Free-market capitalism has not delivered on its claim that it is the best way to enable developing countries to be emancipated from their poverty. Consequently non-governmental and civil society organisations and the Green Party are critical of the G8. We use the media interest created around G8 meetings as an opportunity to advocate our concerns and to promote an alternative agenda. We are scandalised that the G8 makes decisions that affect many other nations and economies that are not represented such as the major ‘new’ economies like China and India.
The ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF campaign tackles 4 issues head on: aid, tax, land and transparency. The IF Campaign argues that IF we all act together, we can make the world leaders change the future by tackling the four big ‘IFs’, each of which relates to the major topics on the G8 agenda:
Aid – If we make the right investments to stop people dying from hunger and help the poorest people feed themselves. The UK government has committed to spending 0.7% of its national income on aid. We must make sure they keep this promise.
Tax – If we stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries. Too many unscrupulous businesses and individuals manage to avoid paying the taxes they owe in developing countries. They’re dodging millions of pounds every day. Yet taxes are the most important, sustainable and predictable source of finance. The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) estimates that developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year. That money could help millions of people to escape from hunger. We can help stop this tax dodging if our government steps up to close the international tax loopholes.
Land – If we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use crops to feed people, not fuel cars. The poorest farmers are losing their land to giant corporations. These companies don’t care that the land is already being used by local people to grow food. Stopping them would help millions of people get enough to eat.
Transparency – If we force governments and big corporations to be honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food. Transparency and accountability are vital in the global food system. Decisions that can affect millions of people are made behind closed doors, without the participation of those affected. Corporates and governments must be more transparent about their affairs so that citizens can hold to account powerful players in the food system.
The IF Campaign recognizes that these are big IFs, but argues that if we press our leaders to make these happen, and IF they do, there really will be enough food for everyone.
That’s why Caroline Lucas is joining with other organisations in a campaign to tell our leaders that if they take strong action to tackle the structural causes of hunger, there will be enough food to meet the needs of earth’s 870 million hungry people.
Because the venue for the G8 is in Northern Ireland, a Week of Action is scheduled to take place in London from 10-14 June. You can join tens of thousands in Hyde Park, London on 8 June for one unmissable event to demand action on world hunger. More information on: www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/our-campaigns/if
Donald and Jean Macdonald