Imagine a world with enough food for everyone on the plant. Oxfam, the UK-headquartered NGO that fights global poverty, is doing just that with its new global campaign, "Grow," which focuses on one element of the poverty cycle: food injustice.
The goal: "to build a better food system, one that produces enough for a growing population and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive."
As highlighted on its global website and regional sites including Oxfam America, Grow has gained support from luminaries including former Brazilian president Lula Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, actresses Scarlett Johansson and Kristin Davis, supermodel Helena Christensen and British TV presenter Zoe Ball, the moment for change is clearly now.
With Wolff Olins on board, Grow is Oxfam's biggest campaign to date. The organization's commitment to Grow's lobbying for food policy change is funded to run for four years in 45 countries, calling on governments and businesses to reform the global food market.
The United Nations is also concerned about soaring food prices, and blames speculators for pushing up food prices, "putting staples out of reach of poor."
"The international community is sleepwalking into an unprecedented and avoidable human development reversal," says Oxfam in its "Grow" research report on the extent of the global food crisis.
A "broken food system" will cause the price of staples to more than double by 2030, causing the world’s poorest, already spending 80% of their income on food, to be severely effected.
900 million people in 2011 experience hunger daily, and by 2050, with the world's population expected to rise from 6.9 billion to 9.1 billion, a concomitant demand for more calories in prosperous economies will cause a “perfect storm,” where hunger reaches irrevocable proportion.
"The food system is buckling under intense pressure from climate change, ecological degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products and competition for land from biofuels, industry, and urbanization," Oxfam states in its report.
Those factors caused the "green revolution" of the 1960s to begin flatlining in the early 1990s. The cost of food staples such as corn, will more than double by 2031.
There are solutions, but they require government support, including: reducing water waste; curbing agriculture and biofuel subsidies in rich countries; opening closed markets to end domination of commodities and seeds trade by a handful of large corporations.
Investment in small farms, often considered a hindrance to large-scale food production “could in fact drive the renaissance.” To that end, Oxfam is calling for establishment of a new global governance to tackle the food crisis, including creation of a multilateral food bank.
"During the 2008 food price crisis, cooperation was nowhere to be seen," says the report. "Existing international institutions and forums were rendered impotent as more than 30 countries imposed export bans in a negative-sum game of beggar-thy-neighbour policy making."
The ‘Grow’ campaign puts a positive spin on the global food crisis in an attempt to reach more consumers, those traditionally turned off by negative messaging.
“We are very proud of…a game-changing campaign that is the first of its kind to frame global food issues in a positive context – that there can be enough for everyone in the world if we make practical positive changes in how we produce, consume, share and manage our resources," said Robert Jones, brand consultant at Wolff Olins.
Oxfam America kicked off the global Grow campaign in the US with a June 1st event that featured Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America), UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter, bestselling author on world hunger and cofounder of The Small Planet Institute Frances Moore Lappé (whose Diet for a Small Planet is celebrating its 40th anniversary), Dr. Cheryl Smith, President of Trillium and immediate past Chair of the Social Investment Forum, and Oxfam America President Ray Offenheiser.
Ahead of the global launch, Oxfam America also asked people to think about what "food security" means to them, with Twitter and Facebook responses that speak to the heart of the "Grow" campaign: