British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding is a Global Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment, joining the fight to save the lives and habitats of people and animals by cleaning up the planet’s air and seas, fighting climate change and protecting species.
“It’s a huge honour to become a UN Environment Global Goodwill Ambassador,” an official statement quoting Ellie said.
“Yes, we face huge global challenges, but we are also taking game-changing steps forward and that should inspire us.
“My focus will be on amplifying the activism of young people commit ted to creating a bright future. I want as many people as possible to become advocates for the planet,” she said.
Ellie, 30, took up her new role on Saturday in Kenya, surrounded by giraffes at the Giraffe Manor in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi, where UN Environment has its headquarters.
She later travelled to the iconic Maasai Mara to learn more about the threats facing wildlife due to habitat loss, and to see the traditional cooking methods that are responsible for millions of deaths every year in low-income countries.
“I have struggled with asthma all my life, so I know how horrible it feels not being able to breathe properly,” she said.
“Millions of people across the world are in this position, living in cities with air polluted by cars and factories, or in rural settings where 3 billion people cook, and heat their homes, using open fires without appropriate ventilation.
“Inhaling this dirty air is slowly killing people – often women and children in the case of indoor cooking. I saw this first-hand in the Maasai village, and was so pleased to be able to contribute clean cookstoves for all the huts. I want to do whatever I can to make our air cleaner by working with UN Environment to inspire action to address this crisis.”
Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of ecosystems. Air pollution, which is the single biggest environmental killer, claims 6.5 million lives each year.
Poor air quality, and pollution of all forms, is high on the agenda of the UN Environment Assembly, which Ellie will attend when it begins on December 4 in Nairobi.
Over 2,000 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, UN officials and civil society representatives are gathering at the meeting to find new ways to deal with pollution.
Ellie will add her voice to the movement.
UN Environment’s global campaign, Breathe Life, is tackling air quality; over 100 cities and four countries are expected to join during the meeting with the goal of creating clean air in cities by 2030.
Ellie is also backing UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign. Each year, at least eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans – the equivalent of one dumper truck a minute – harming marine species and getting into the human food chain, with plastic now found in salt and shellfish.
Already, 37 governments have joined the Clean Seas campaign, with Britain, the EU, France, Indonesia, Kenya and Canada all on board.
The UN Environment Assembly will see further action on this issue, with new commitments for national and regional plans to monitor the amount of plastic going into the sea and plans to start cutting this pollution in the coming years.
“So much plastic is ending up in the seas to wash up on shorelines or be eaten by turtles, seabirds and other creatures,” Ellie said.
“Plastic bags, bottles and straws: too many people are using them for five minutes and tossing them away where they hang around for 500 years. This Armageddon of the oceans must stop,” she added.
Ellie, who has two UK number one singles and albums to her credit, is a global star.
Views of her music videos on YouTube regularly hit the billions, demonstrating her exceptional reach and influence.
“Today’s young people make up the single largest generation that the world has ever seen, and when given opportunities and support, they can be powerful catalysts for change,” said UN Environment head Eri k Solheim.
“Ellie is a powerful new environmental advocate, who I know truly connects with and inspires youth around the world. This is critical for making change happen. Together, we can do amazing things,” he added.