25 Jan 2015

It's Not Over Till We Win

Hunger Hero Award - Acceptance Speech Davos

I am deeply honoured by this award, but I cannot claim to be a hunger hero. I am a witness to hunger. I see what hunger does to people, and I tell it how it is.

It ravages the frame; it savages the mind. It is entirely reductive, belittling and dehumanising in its onslaught. It is predatory and relentless in its attack.   

And at the frontline of the battle against it, are the aid workers who look hunger in the face every day. These fighters are the committed and caring workers, men and women from the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNHCR, Oxfam, Médecins San Frontèires and so many other great organisations. They deserve recognition, but even more than that, they need your help, they also need never to be forgotten.

They are fighting the long war against Hunger. Long wars tend to wear people down and fade into the background of public consciousness.   We will never defeat hunger if we do not see it for what it is – a global crisis that threatens all of us, even the well fed.

I would like to dedicate this award to His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who makes all that I and so many others do possible. He understands the need for urgency, and he has shown me time and time again that he maintains the sense of urgency when it comes to any humanitarian causes. 

 He has facilitated aid in ways that almost beggar belief. I could bombard you with numbers, shower you with statistics, and the list of projects is endless, …but his actions have always spoken louder than words, and his actions have touched so many millions of people.

His Highness has many quotes, but one of my favourites, is, “The time now is to act and provide relief and support and help, and it is not the time for talking.”

And I’m very proud of the fact that the United Arab Emirates, my home now, gives more aid as a percentage of GNI than any other country in the world.

Similarly I must give all due credit, honour and thanks to many other individuals here tonight who are more deserving of this award than I, and I accept it on their behalf and share it wholeheartedly with them Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with his Zero Hunger Campaign; former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the author of the Millennium Development Goals;  Bill and Melinda Gates for all their work in this area and my good friend Ertharin Cousins, who is one of the most energetic, friendly, and hardworking women who has ever fought hunger. She is a role model for me.

They have all done so much in this fight to combat hunger and malnutrition.

We all have a role to play, in consigning Hunger and Starvation to the dust of history, let us make their continued currency one the greatest shames of the 21st century. It’s not over till we win!

Thank you.