Hunger and malnutrition in childhood will trap almost a billion young people in poverty by 2025, according to a major new campaign, launched by Britain’s leading development charities and faith groups. On 25 January at 9.15am, historian and broadcaster John Grundy will join North East agencies including Christian Aid, Traidcraft and North East Call to Action to unfurl a giant banner from the tower of St Thomas’ Church in Newcastle’s Haymarket to launch ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’, the largest coalition of its kind in the UK since Make Poverty History in 2005.

Regional church leaders and politicians including MPs Chi Onwurah and Ian Mearns, MEP Fiona Hall and Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, will be attending the regional launch to lend their support to the campaign.

The group warns that in a world where there is enough food for everyone, the scandal of children growing up hungry also imposes a grave economic burden on the developing world, costing £78 billion over the next 15 years.

In its first report out today, the group which numbers 100 organisations and has the backing of philanthropist Bill Gates and Desmond Tutu, warns of the human and economic cost of hunger in a world where there is enough food to feed everyone. Other high profile supporters include actors Bill Nighy, Keeley Hawes and Bonnie Wright, musician Baaba Maal, athlete Colin Jackson and England rugby legend Matt Dawson.

As well as the 937 million children and young people (aged 15-40) whose life chances will be permanently damaged by the impact of childhood hunger by 2025, the report estimates that malnutrition will cost developing countries an annual $125 billion (£78 billion) in lost economic output by 2030.

Great strides have been made in reducing poverty and 14,000 fewer children are dying each day than in 1990. But hunger is threatening to reverse these achievements. Hardworking poor farmers, especially women and their children, and vulnerable and ordinary people everywhere face the highest food prices in a generation. In the UK, the numbers of people using food banks has risen sharply. Climate change is making things even worse.

The campaign calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to use the UK’s G8 presidency in 2013 to take action on the root causes of the hunger crisis in the poorest countries. The ‘IF’ movement challenges the Prime Minister to tackle 4 big IFs to ensure there is enough food for everyone:

  • IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
  • IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
  • If governments close loopholes to stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
  • IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.We want our leaders to act on the four big issues that stop everyone getting enough food. Taking action on the ‘corporation tax gap’ by multinational companies alone would enable developing countries to raise enough revenue every day to save the lives of 230 children under 5 currently dying because of malnutrition.

John Grundy, who is patron of the North East Call to Action on Poverty, is supporting the ‘IF’ campaign: “With all the skills we have it should be so easy to make sure that nobody goes hungry. We must do more” he appealed.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, commented: “It is unforgiveable that, in the 21st century, almost one billion young people are growing up hungry and malnourished.

“The Prime Minister must use the UK’s Presidency of the G8 to take an international lead and deliver concrete measures that would help to resolve this scandal.  We simply have to put a stop to the hunger that threatens to reverse the incredible improvements that have taken place in the developing world over recent decades.”

Paul Brannen, Christian Aid’s Manager for North and Central England, based in Newcastle, stated: “The people of the North East, especially in the churches, were big supporters of Make Poverty History. We hope that they will be as supportive of the IF campaign in 2013, a campaign which really aims to tackle the causes of poverty, causes such as corporate tax dodging.”

Enough Food for Everyone IF launch events will be taking place in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as regionally in more than 24 key towns and cities.

IF enough people join us in showing support for ending hunger, world leaders will be forced to act. Join us at http://www.enoughfoodif.org/