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Supermodel and UN advocate Gisele Bündchen backs access to energy in Kenya

Article / Review by on January 13, 2012 – 9:49 pmNo Comments

Supermodel and UN advocate Gisele Bündchen backs access to energy in Kenya

UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen. Photo: UNEP
UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen. Photo: UNEP

Supermodel and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen has visited Kenya to experience firsthand the reality of energy poverty and to see how lives are being transformed in the East African country by making sustainable energy accessible to those not connected to the national grid.

“Energy affects everything,” the Brazilian fashion icon and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Programmes (UNEP) said yesterday at a news conference in the capital, Nairobi, where the agency is based. “Children can study at night when they have access to electricity. If we can bring electricity to everyone, we can help people to survive,” she said.

“It’s unjust if people do not have access to electricity. Energy for all is achievable. Just two per cent of global investment is needed,” she added, speaking a week before the global launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

She visited Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum, to see biogas centres where human waste is used to produce power and Kisumu in the west, where she took part in collecting firewood and learned about fuel-efficient stoves. She also travelled to the Mount Kenya region in central Kenya, where a micro hydro-electric power station is supplying electricity to over 2,000 households.

One in five people on the Planet do not have access to electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa some 70 per cent of the population have no electricity, while in Kenya only 18 per cent of households have power.

Many families across the world still depend on firewood for cooking, which produces toxic smoke that harms the health of women and children.

“We don’t hear about this and yet the solutions are so simple,” said Ms. Bündchen, who has recently been named the ‘world’s greenest celebrity.’

UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, called for a change of thinking on energy.

“In Africa two thirds of the population still do not have access to energy. There are solutions at the local and community levels. I have a dream that with photovoltaic energy we can build grids up from the bottom and that one day we will see rural areas generating electricity and selling energy to the cities,” he said.

Kenya is increasingly developing its geothermal, wind, solar and hydro power resources at the local level.

UNEP is working to realize and to accelerate the use of renewable energy within the overall theme of a Green Economy, with a special emphasis on Africa, and Kenya in particular.

The new UN office complex in Nairobi, which Ms. Bündchen visited and which houses UNEP and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), has 6,000 square metres of solar panels and generates as much electricity as its 1,200 occupants consume.


About UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Mission: “To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) logo

UNEP, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.

UNEP work encompasses:

· Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends
· Developing international and national environmental instruments
· Strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment
· Facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development
· Encouraging new partnerships and mind-sets within civil society and the private sector.

UNEP’s global and cross-sectoral outlook is reflected in its organizational structure, its activities and is personnel. Being based in Africa gives UNEP a clear advantage in understanding the environmental issues facing the world’s developing countries.

To ensure its global effectiveness UNEP supports six regional offices, plus a growing network of centres of excellence such as the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) centres and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). UNEP also has major offices in Geneva and Paris, where its Division of Technology, Industry and Economics is situated.

UNEP also hosts several environmental convention secretariats including the Ozone Secretariat and the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, and a growing family of chemicals-related agreements, including the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the recently negotiated Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

More about United Nations (UN)

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