On 8th June I went down to London with a group of campaigners from Bradford to join over 40,000 people from around the country wanting to give a clear message to the G8 summit leaders that they must take action on the global issues of tax-dodging, land-grabbing and hunger. I got involved with the ‘enough food for everyone IF’ campaign because I don’t want to live in a world where 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every night and a child dies from hunger every 15 seconds. The IF campaign is supported by over 200 organisations and the rally had been organised by some of the UK’s biggest NGOs and charities and brought people together in Hyde Park to hear from a variety of speakers and musicians from across the world on the campaign and put pressure on David Cameron and the other G8 leaders who were meeting the following week in Northern Ireland.
We arrived in time to join the march from Westminster to Hyde Park where the rally was taking place and it was good to be able to talk to some people we passed about why we were there. In Hyde Park there were campaign stalls and a big stage where everyone gathered in the sunshine to hear from the speakers and musicians. One of the highlights for me was hearing Satish Kumar speak. An Indian activist who speaks passionately from the soul about growing food and living with the earth in a way that means no one would go hungry. He was inspiring and I recommend listening to him on youtube or reading articles he has written. I very much enjoyed listening to Angelique Kidjo, a singer from Benin with an amazing voice and uplifting songs. There were also 2 young people from Tanzania who spoke of their personal experience of hunger and their meeting with David Cameron that afternoon, and I hope he listened well to them.
I have now been part of 4 G8 demos, 3 in the UK and 1 in Germany and as well as being part of the ‘drop the debt’ ‘make poverty history’ and ‘IF’ campaigns, I have also been involved in some nonviolent demonstrations around ‘Stop the G8.’ For me I feel it is important to be part of both. I get inspired and energised from being with thousands of others from around the UK and world who see the injustices and inequality in the world and so we gather together as a loud collective voice with a message to the G8 world leaders that they must work for change and use the power they have globally to make a difference to the lives of the millions living in poverty. However, at the same time if I’m honest I find it hard to believe that the leaders of the G8 countries – UK, USA, Russia, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada – hold the best interests of the world’s poorest people at the heart of all they do and all the decisions they make, and because of that I can’t see the G8 being a significant force for positive change in the future, and this is the reason I believe ultimately it should be stopped. As I walked away from Hyde Park the question in my mind was ‘I wonder how much has been spent on food at the G8 summit?’
But this doesn’t mean that I will give up on campaigning and adding my voice along with thousands of others as we hope that something genuinely life-giving will come out of these meetings, because it is so much better than doing nothing and we can see this year’s G8 summit resulted in some positive statements being made, such as G8 leaders pledging an extra $4.1billion to help tackle malnutrition which could save the lives of almost 2million children. World leaders agreeing to set up pilot partnerships with developing countries to make buying, selling and owning land fairer and David Cameron announcing that all UK-affiliated tax havens will now have to share information about the companies using them, and G8 leadersagreeing that information from all companies should now be open to scrutiny by tax authorities in developing countries.
It is important to make sure that these promises of action are followed through quickly and effectively because they will make a real difference to millions of people who are living and dying in poverty, and as long as the G8 summits happen we must continue to put pressure on David Cameron and the other leaders to ensure they are using the opportunity to do all they can to end hunger and suffering in the world.