Tackling global hunger should be priority for new Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 15 Sep 2010

Australia’s new Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd should make tackling global hunger one of his top priorities when he attends the UN Millennium Development Goal summit in New York this week, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.

A new Oxfam report launched today has found that the world can halve global hunger within five years. The report, ‘Halving World Hunger: Still Possible’ coincides with an announcement by the UN Food and Agriculture Committee (FAO) that the number of hungry people worldwide has dropped by 98 million to 925 million people in the past year.

Oxfam Australia spokeswoman Kelly Dent said while it was welcome news that the number of hungry people has declined for the first time in 15 years – down from a record high of 1.02 billion in 2009 – much more still needed to be done.

“Any reduction in the number of hungry people is welcome but the food crisis has not gone away. 925 million hungry people is still a scandal,” Ms Dent said.

“The decline in the number of hungry people is largely down to luck – including two years of good harvests which had, until recently, led to a fall in global food prices. The policies and increased investment that are needed to address the underlying causes of hunger are still required.

“Another global food crisis could explode at any time unless governments tackle the underlying causes of hunger, including food price volatility, decades of under-investment in agriculture, and climate change,” Ms Dent said.

In less than a week world leaders will meet in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals, including the goal to halve world hunger by 2015 (MDG1). In the ten years since the MDGs were agreed, the proportion of hungry people in the world has decreased by just half a percent – from 14 percent in 2000 to 13.5 per cent today.

“Kevin Rudd needs to ensure that tackling hunger is put firmly at the centre of the agenda when he attends the New York meeting. By attending the summit, Mr Rudd is showing the Australian Government’s commitment to the MDGs. It is important that commitment is now turned into action that helps to reduce the number of hungry people in the world,” Ms Dent said.

Oxfam’s new report points to countries such as Vietnam that have achieved or are on track to achieve MDG1 as evidence that halving world hunger is still possible. These countries have dramatically reduced hunger at home by supporting poor food producers and providing social safety nets for people who cannot produce or buy enough food.

Oxfam calls on world leaders, meeting in New York from 20 – 22 September, to back the development of a global action plan on hunger as part of a broader rescue package for the Millennium Development Goals.

“Tackling hunger must be part of a broader Millennium Development Goal rescue package. We cannot ask a mother to decide between feeding and educating her child. We cannot afford to miss a single Millennium Development Goal.”

For more information contact Kate Thwaites, 0407 515 559, katethwaites@oxfam.org.au
Download a media briefing here: http://www.divshare.com/direct/12505435-ffd.pdf
Download a copy of the report here: http://www.divshare.com/direct/12540771-cd6.pdf