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October 7, 11

NEWS / Scoring a try against hunger: Rugby World Cup takes UN message to billions

7 October 2011 –
From the scrums on the fields of New Zealand, the current Rugby World Cup is taking the United Nations fight against global hunger, and its fundraising appeal, to a potential audience of 4 billion people in the latest partnership between the world of sport and UN agencies.

Via a combination of in-stadium visibility with advertising boards, programme advertisements and public service videos shown in stadia, at Cup “fanzones,” online and via tournament broadcasters, the Tackle Hunger campaign, first launched by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 2003, for the first time directs viewers to a secure donations page on WFP’s website.

“People think that solving hunger is an insurmountable task, but every time someone learns about WFP, visits the IRB or WFP sites, donates to help feed a hungry school child, we are building a momentum to defeat hunger, end malnutrition and help save a generation of young people that otherwise might be doomed to a diminished tomorrow,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

Defeating hunger, estimated to afflict more than 1 billion people, is the first of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015, and IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset voiced his organization’s pride in the partnership with WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian agency.

“The Tackle Hunger campaign, with the support of rugby fans around the world, can contribute in some way to alleviating the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves and have a real and positive impact on the lives of so many where hunger is present,” he said.

The campaign is also using a variety of social media platforms to connect directly with rugby fans across the world, and a recent news release on WFP’s response to the devastating famine in Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa was sent to more than 1.2 million Rugby World Cup Facebook followers and 46,000 followers on Twitter.

The Rugby World Cup – which concludes on 23 October – is the third biggest global sporting event after the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup, and a television audience estimated at 4 billion people is expected to tune in during the course of the tournament.

In May, the tournament’s Webb-Ellis Cup trophy was displayed at UN Headquarters in New York at a ceremony attended by diplomatic representatives of the 20 participating teams. “For seven years, through the Tackle Hunger programme, you have raised awareness and funds that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said then.

Launched at the 2003 event in Australia and continued at the next tournament in 2007 in France, Tackle Hunger sprang from IRB’s desire to meet its social responsibilities and help the UN achieve the MDGs.

The campaign is but one in a whole series of collaborations between UN agencies and world sport, which has seen the likes of football legends Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane scoring goals against poverty, the European Swimming League in “a race against time” to prevent deaths from unclean water and the Cricket World Cup batting for the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Similar initiatives have involved United States football stars, marathon runners and drivers from Formula One car racing.




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