UNCCD Designates New Drylands Ambassadors

26 March 2012: The Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Luc Gnacadja, presented Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs with certificates designating them UNCCD Drylands Ambassadors.

The presentation took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the sidelines of the March 2012 meetings for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). During the press conference that accompanied the presentation, Gnacadja and Lopes called on those that will attend the June 2012 Rio+20 event to agree on a target calling for zero net land degradation.

Gnacadja said the Dryland Ambassadors play the crucial role of spreading a message that is rarely heard, often not well understood and that concerns the populations most affected but that lack a voice. Leila Lopes said she was born in Angola in a town that is affected by land degradation, and that she was inspired to take up the cause because 1.5 million people are affected by land degradation and "we can do something about it.” She said she will attend the UNCSD this June to speak about the issue. [UNCCD Press Release]