ONE CEO Michael Elliott delivers our Horn of Africa petition to world leaders

ONE CEO and President Michael Elliott formally delivered our Horn of Africa petition to a room full of world leaders at a UN mini-summit over the weekend. The petition, which has more than 200,000 signatures, will help pressure governments to step up and save millions of lives.

In addition to putting our petition in the hands of this powerful group of individuals, Michael delivered a speech highlighting ONE’s work against the famine and urging world leaders to take action in the Horn of Africa. Read his official remarks below:

“Thank you Madam Chair for this opportunity and for organizing today’s extraordinarily important session. We’ve all heard the statistics outlining the extent of the crisis that we are here to address, but I think it’s worth trying to get beyond the numbers and to remind ourselves that it is nothing short of a global disgrace that this is happening in the 21st century. We are witnessing a tragedy that deserves an urgent global response, yet world leaders are falling short of what is needed.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the organizations and aid workers currently working on the ground in the Horn who are doing harrowing, hard, and sometimes dangerous work. As a campaigning organization, we at ONE will be working to galvanize opinion around the idea that, while drought may be inevitable and an act of nature, famine is not. More than 200,000 of our members have added their voices to a global petition calling for world leaders to act now. In the short term, I think we all want leaders to urgently fund the almost $1 billion gap identified for the UN to secure emergency relief. In the longer term, as has been said by many voices today, we need to ensure that a crisis like this never happens again, and to that end we urge our leaders to invest in long-term agriculture development programs that better prepare farmers in poor countries to withstand natural shocks.

That call was echoed this week in an open letter signed by a group of more than 50 African artists, musicians, and business people; and just this morning Save the Children, Oxfam, and a coalition of aid agencies and civil society groups, including ONE, came together to launch a Charter to End Extreme Hunger, which the Prime Minister of Kenya signed and we applaud him for it. The Charter outlines five key actions that rich and poor countries should take to stop widespread starvation as a result of drought, high food prices and conflict.

Many countries in Africa have already implemented solutions like those, and they’re making a difference. Yet the crisis today shows that not enough has been done. Though many countries have risen to the occasion, and demonstrated real leadership in the emergency response, others have not and need to do so. As a contributor from Germany made the point earlier today, the circle of donors needs to be widened, and I would say deepened too. The world needs to keep its promises to those who need them most. I would note, Madam Chairwoman, that by our calculations, together the G8 and G20 countries have delivered only some 20 percent of the $22 billion that they promised to invest in agriculture development. Many African governments themselves have not fulfilled their own commitment to put 10 percent of their national budgets into agricultural development.

Together with other members of civil society, ONE and its more than 2.5 million members are committed to a multi-year campaign that we hope will spark a more urgent global response to the immediate needs in the region. We applaud all those who are doing so much to help while also building support for longer term strategies that will help end the cycle of famine once and for all. Thank you again for this opportunity.”