UN agencies use ‘star power’ to push causes from war on drugs to building better cities

16 May 2006

Using the worlds of sports, academia and music to amplify their messages, United Nations agencies have selected a series of ‘stars’ in each area to help tackle issues ranging from crime and drug abuse by the young to the battle against child exploitation to urban planning.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa has named Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, world champion rally driver and Olympic shooter, as the first Global Sport Fund (GSF) Ambassador.

The Global Sport Fund was set up by UNODC with funding from the Qatar National Olympic Committee to help prevent vulnerable young people from being sucked into crime and drug abuse. As a GSF ambassador, the 36-year-old Al-Attiyah will use his position as a high-profile athlete to raise awareness about the potential of sport to help young people.

“Mr Al-Attiyah is an accomplished athlete in sports that require precision and dedication, where being distracted by drugs would make success impossible,” Mr. Costa said. “He has the credentials to show young people what tremendous achievements are possible by living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

UN- HABITAT has bestowed its first UN Human Settlements Lecture award on Professor John Friedmann, one of the most well-known urban planners in the world today, who is currently Honorary Professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He is also Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at UCLA in the United States.

Professor Friedmann, who has worked in and written about Latin America, North America, Europe and China, will deliver his lecture during the third session of the World Urban Forum in Vancouver from 19 to 23 June.

The award seeks to recognize outstanding and sustained contribution to research, thinking and practice in the human settlements field, and the lecture is intended to stimulate global debate and provoke new thinking in the field.

Meanwhile in the field of music, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has joined forces with the Ricky Martin Foundation on a global initiative aimed at safeguarding children against exploitation and abuse.

The non-profit foundation, named after the Puerto Rican-born singer, defends the well-being of children around the world in areas such as social justice, education and health.

The first step of the new partnership will be to strengthen the “Navega Protegido Campaign launched by the Foundation and Microsoft to promote child safety online and secure children from dangers such as child pornography, sex predators and identity theft. Educational material regarding hazards in cyberspace will be distributed to children and teachers of the UNESCO network of Associated Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) today announced that renowned directors Jane Campion and Gaspar Noé will present at the 59th Cannes Festival on 25 May two short films.

The films will constitute the first and second segments of “8,” an eight-part feature about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets for addressing key social, economic, health and environmental challenges, UNDP said.

The collaborative effort of eight world-class filmmakers, “8” is produced by LDM Productions in partnership with UNDP, and is set for wide release in early 2007.

“The Millennium Development Goals catch the imagination of people because they make development real,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis. “Development is about mothers not dying when they give birth, about children surviving their first years; about getting every child into primary school, making sure that people have access to clean water where they live.”


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