HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Chairperson of Dubai International Humanitarian City (IHC), called for global leaders to unite in the fight to eradicate world hunger.
Addressing the ongoing World Government Summit on the challenges facing the humanitarian sector in today’s political and economic climate, Princess Haya also paid tribute to the UAE martyrs who recently lost their lives in Kandahar, while providing assistance to the underprivileged in Afghanistan.
In her speech, Princess Haya thanked UAE’s leaders for their humanitarian efforts, led by the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, along with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Princess Haya also paid tribute to the Mother of the nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, for her endless support, to be our role model and a champion of all UAE humanitarian activities.
Leaders in aid
Princess Haya stated: “According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which collects statistics on government aid, the UAE became the world’s most generous donor in 2013 reaching 1.34 per cent of gross national income and maintained that position in 2014.
“The only other donor to reach a comparable level in the last few years is Sweden.
“The OECD figures on Official Development Assistance do not include private aid, which adds billions of dollars more to the UAE total.”
She further stated that in 2015, the UAE registered a 43 per cent increase in total foreign aid to reach more than Dh32bn.
“And the story continues…earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa declared 2017 the Year of Giving to encourage people across the Emirates to contribute to their communities and strengthen the spirit of volunteerism,” she said.
Princess Haya explained the vision for IHC was to set up a unique free trade zone that brings together all the major players in humanitarian aid under one roof – nine major UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, more than 50 NGOs.
“The guiding principle behind all of our work at the IHC is to respond to humanitarian emergencies in record time, and above all, to facilitate and coordinate for our members, because it is the members of the IHC who are the main actors in the humanitarian community,” she stressed.
As the world goes through a turbulent time, Princess Haya said more than 65 million people have been displaced from their homes due to wars in Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and other trouble spots – the highest level since World War II.
She explained: “The cost is staggering. The magnitude of immediate humanitarian aid required from the UN organisations and NGOs has grown to $22bn, ten times the amount in 2000.
“About 800m still suffer from chronic forms of hunger.
“In addition to these human tragedies, a UN report estimates that 50m will be displaced due to desertification and climate change in the next 10 years.”
Princess Haya further explained ‘The Marshall Plan’ was put in place to pull Europe out of hunger and poverty in the wake of World War II.
“It is still our model in today’s world,” she said. “In this day and age, the humanitarian sector seems to stand against creativity, innovation and technology and is slow to change.
“It stands against any unconventional mindset… even though it is just what we need to address the problems and put an end to them once and for all.”
She continued: “The issue is not limited to what we have to deal with on the ground. If we do not act, we are bound to lose our sense of humanity, which would be far worse than the disasters themselves.
“As governments, you have the power to make decisions and solve current crises; especially those that are political. You can also empower those working in the relief and humanitarian sectors to continue to fulfil their missions.
“Despite the fact that governments are somewhat reserved when it comes to disclosing the number of people suffering from hunger and poverty, I can assure you that our work in the humanitarian field must first begin with ending hunger.
“We must reduce it to zero and then proceed to combat poverty through development programmes, sound planning and consistent monitoring to ensure transparency.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the yearly food waste worldwide is about $2.6 trillion, taking into account the required workforce, energy and water for producing it.
This waste can feed three times the population of the earth including the 800m hungry today.
“The UAE recently took a step in this direction when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the UAE Food Bank, chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Hind Bint Juma Al Maktoum,” said Princess Haya. “We sincerely hope that many other governments will join the UAE.”
She added that governments and the private sector must work together to employ innovation, creativity and technology in this field.
“Also, financial institutions have a significant role to play. For example, they could offer bonds in support of development programmes and emergency operations,” Princess Haya explained. “I would like propose that we create a global hub for humanitarian data on logistics and aid deliveries to be hosted by the IHC.
“I ask all of you here today, as representatives for your governments, as well as other governments around the world, to provide any specialised data to assist and to document your experiences.
This global hub for humanitarian data on logistics, which will promote the latest in innovation and technology, is just one of many initiatives.