Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama will put his popularity at the service of the environment as the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) ambassador on climate change for the Arab world. Alama’s new assignment was announced at a ceremony in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
Upon receiving his mission credentials from UNEP’s Beirut representative Marie Dhaher, Alama said that climate change was “something for which we are all responsible, because it will determine the shape of our future and our children’s future. Let us unite and work hand in hand to combat climate change for a better Lebanon.”
UNEP is working with the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment to combat pollution and promote environmental protection and sustainability. Environment Minister Tony Karam has already made strides with campaigns to curb pollution, strengthen fire protection rules and expand public awareness. In addition, he has brought guidelines before the cabinet which would require licences for quarrying and end the widespread disfigurement of mountain landscapes. Karam also took part in the climate change conference in Geneva at the end of August, where he presented his views on the global strategy to limit and treat carbon emissions.
This is not the first time that the U.N. has opted for a Lebanese celebrity to help broadcast its message. Just months ago, Nancy Ajram was designated UNICEF’s ambassador for children, and Marcel Khalifa became a UNESCO Peace Ambassador in 2005, in recognition of his commitment to intercultural dialogue. The title of Goodwill Ambassador is an honorary one, assigned by various U.N. agencies to well-known international figures. It has no diplomatic or political status and has the sole objective of winning support for United Nations social, humanitarian, economic, health, or nutritional programmes. The celebrities use their popularity to spread awareness and win support for their issues.
The most prominent Goodwill Ambassadors in the region are Jordan’s Queen Rania al-Abdullah, Syrian actor Duraid Lahham and Iraqi singer and composer Kathem al-Saher, who share the title with international screen celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Sophia Loren.