, September 21, 2009 (ENS) - One of the world's best known supermodels, Brazil-born Gisele Bundchen, Sunday was designated Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme at a ceremony in New York's Washington Square Park.
In her new role, Bundchen will help UNEP in its mission to raise awareness and inspire action to protect the environment. The new Goodwill Ambassador will help focus attention on some of the greatest threats facing the planet - climate change and environmental degradation.
"I'm really honored to join UNEP's work on the environment," said Bundchen, who writes an environmental blog in English and Portuguese. She also speaks Spanish. Her blog features items on climate change, clean water, natural foods and animal protection.
Gisele Bundchen and Achim Steiner introduce UNEP's newest Goodwill Ambassador to the world in Washington Square Park. (Photo courtesy UNEP)
On climate change, Bundchen said in her acceptance speech Sunday, "Climate change is something we can't deny. It affects all of us. At the end of the day, it's our planet - we all have to feel accountable."
Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director said at the designation ceremony. "Gisele is among a handful of talented individuals and personalities that have a truly global reach. She is also a committed and passionate environmentalist."
"UNEP is delighted to welcome her on board as a Goodwill Ambassador so that with her help, we can make environmental action a global brand and a life-style choice, from New York to Nairobi and from Sao Paolo to Shanghai."
"I've been working as a model, but the environment has always been my passion," said Bundchen. "The motivating factor is my heart, this is deep, deep in my heart."
"I grew up in a small town and I had the opportunity to live surrounded by nature. I couldn't have asked for a better childhood," she said. "We must act now, so future generations have the same opportunity."
Bundchen was born in the Brazilian town of Tres de Maio to a retired bank clerk and a university teacher and writer. She grew up in Horizontina, in the backcountry state of Rio Grande do Sul. She has five sisters, including her fraternal twin, Patricia.
Discovered by a modeling agency in a mall in Sao Paulo at the age of 14, Bundchen made her high-profile debut on the cover of the July 1999 issue of "Vogue" magazine. Since, she has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers throughout the world and has modeled for many of the world's high-fashion brands.
Gisele Bundchen (Photo courtesy Gisele Bundchen Blog)
In February 2009, she married New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Earlier this month, Brady told ESPN that his wife is pregnant and that the baby is due in December.
"Mother Earth is our fundamental life-support system, and by becoming aware and responsible now, we can assist in preserving the planet," she said on Sunday, wearing a t-shirt hand painted by a Kenyan artist for the United Nations' Seal the Deal! climate campaign.
"I have been working on environmental issues for a long time and agreed to become a Goodwill Ambassador to be part of a global and far-reaching organization," she said. "Now it's about action on a global scale to secure a healthy future for the next generation, wherever they live in the world."
Bundchen shares her wealth and her image with a number of charities and humanitarian causes, including several that aim to safeguard the environment.
She promotes protecting the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and Amazon Rainforest water sources, donating to this cause a percentage of the profits from her line of sandals, Ipanema Gisele Bundchen.
She is part of the Florestas do Futuro project for the reforestation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, a project created by the nonprofit organization SOS Atlantic Forest in 2004. A new forest, named Gisele Bundchen Sementes, started with 25,500 shoots of 100 different species, enough to reforest an area of 15 hectares.
Also, Bundchen helps projects such as the Nascentes do Brasil, or Springs of Brazil, a campaign of the global conservation organization WWF to protect the springs and river headwaters of her native land.
Bundchen also supports the award-winning nonprofit Instituto Socioambiental, which works to strengthen social and environmental rights in Brazil.
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.
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