Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Côte d'Ivoire and Manchester City Football Star Yaya Touré Becomes UNEP Goodwill Ambassador

International football star Yaya Touré today pledged to combat the illegal ivory trade that sees thousands of African elephants slaughtered each year as he was unveiled as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Touré joins the roster of other Goodwill Ambassadors—Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, US actor Don Cheadle, Chinese actress Li Binging, French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand and Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev—to help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes.

Touré, African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and an inspirational figure for Manchester City and his national side Côte d'Ivoire, travelled to the headquarters of UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya—a country that is facing a massive spike in poaching—to accept his nomination.

 “Côte d'Ivoire’s national team is named ‘The Elephants’ after these magnificent creatures that are so full of power and grace, yet in my country alone there may be as few as 800 individuals left,” Touré said.

“Poaching threatens the very existence of the African elephant and if we do not act now we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out.”

“I became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message that this poaching—and other forms of wildlife crime—is not only a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries,” he added.

“We are honoured that Mr. Touré has agreed to be a Goodwill Ambassador,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“His personal commitment to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle and his global status as an internationally renowned sportsman makes him a particularly powerful African voice to speak and inspire action on the environmental challenges and the solutions to these challenges.”