Thousands advocate for HungerFree world, spur G8 leaders to act

Through art and social media, World Vision’s HungerFree campaign urges G8 leaders to take steps to address global hunger and malnutrition.

By Shawna Templeton and Cat-Dan Lai-Smith, World Vision U.S.
Published June 4, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

In the weeks leading up to the G8 Summit -- a meeting of the world's eight richest countries -- hundreds of advocates took to the Internet and used their artistic inspiration to call on world leaders to take practical steps to end world hunger and malnutrition.

A vision for a hunger-free world

Spearheaded by World Vision, the HungerFree campaign uses the power of social media to ensure that world leaders hear the concerns of thousands of advocates around the world.

By utilizing Facebook and Twitter, thousands of advocates shared their vision of a hunger-free world with their friends and world leaders.

HungerFree advocates called on G8 leaders to:

1. Invest in food security programs that target mothers and children under 5.

2. Support nutrition programs that target the critical first 1,000 days of a child's life. 

3. Honor and carry forward existing G8 aid commitments for food security and nutrition interventions and track progress on those commitments.

More than 900 people displayed their support by uploading their profile photo onto HungerFree.org. On Twitter, the HungerFree campaign hash-tag -- #HungerFree -- was mentioned 5,946 times in the lead-up to and during the summit.

HungerFree G8 art challenge

Adam Taylor, World Vision's vice president for advocacy, presents the HungerFree art book to Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council.HungerFree art activists contributed their depictions of a hunger-free world through the HungerFree website. Some of the art came from children directly impacted by the global hunger crisis. Artwork was submitted from countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Canada, India, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The photos, drawings, and other artwork were compiled in a book that was presented to Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council, who accepted the book on behalf of President Obama.

Artwork from HungerFree participants was also displayed in a three-day art exhibit at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The exhibit artistically depicted hunger while also proposing solutions to end global hunger.

G8 outcome: Commitments encouraging, but promises still need to be kept

At the G8 Summit, food security, particularly for nations in Africa, was one of the agenda items. A key outcome was that the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition set an important target of bringing 50 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.

World Vision has been monitoring the commitments made around nutrition and food security at the G8 meeting held in L'Aquila, Italy, in 2009. While some countries have fulfilled their promises (United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada) others are far behind, and, overall, the G8 has only disbursed about half of what it said it would by the end of 2012.

"The G8 made it clear in [their accountability] report that they believe child nutrition is the best use of aid investment dollars, but this talk is not turning into action quickly enough,” says Adam Taylor, World Vision's vice president for advocacy. "We would like to see greater funding and targeted goals for nutrition."

Next step: G20

This month, on June 18-19, leaders from the world's 20 wealthiest countries will meet for the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The G20 countries represent two-thirds of the world's population and more than 80 percent of its economic activity.

Some 44 percent of malnourished children in the world live in G20 countries, so steps toward the elimination of child malnutrition in these countries will have a significant impact worldwide.

"There is still much room for continued international support," confirms Taylor. "This is why the upcoming G20 is a perfect backdrop for world leaders to make bolder commitments to create a hunger-free world."

How you can help

Thank God for the committments made at the G20. Pray that these countries would keep their promises to address global hunger and malnutrition. Pray that significant steps to address hunger will be taken at the G20 Summit.

As the date for the G20 Summit approaches, visit HungerFree.org to upload your profile picture, submit artwork, and tweet the G20 leaders. Use the Twitter hashtag -- #HungerFree -- to let your friends and the G20 leaders know where you stand on hunger and malnutrition.

Make a one-time gift to help provide life-saving food and care to children suffering from hunger. In places like West Africa, millions of children under the age of 5 across the region are affected by a drought and food crisis. Your donation will help deliver emergency food aid, agricultural support, and more to children and families at risk from food shortages.