An eclectic group of celebrities is teaming up to raise awareness for World Environment Day 2014. Model Gisele Bundchen, film stars Don Cheadle and Ian Somerhalder, and footballer Yaya Toure are all championing unique environmental causes in conjunction with United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to involve more people in the little-known holiday that occurs June 5.

The “Message in a Bottle” Campaign for World Environment day will provide the public with a unique look into these stars’ lives. Jeffrey Nachmanaoff, director of Public Service Announcements for UNEP, indicated that short movies focusing on each individual will be displayed on CNN, Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. Viewers will learn how Yaya Toure is preparing for the upcoming world cup, or watch Cheadle practice the trumpet to practice for his upcoming role as Miles Davis. Bundchen’s short video includes footage of her Kung Fu lessons, a staple of her everyday life when she’s not modeling. These clips will also provide more information about the various environmental causes chosen by these celebrities.

“These global celebrities are giving fans a unique glimpse into the private moments that make them who they are. They are then interrupted in these moments by a message in the bottle which is an unexpected play on their roles and provides a twist that should get the viewer’s attention and encourage them to want to go to the site to get involved.”

In the spirit of the upcoming World Cup, these talented individuals are competing against one another for supporters. Toure is sponsoring a campaign to end the pollution of plastic bags, while Cheadle’s and Somerhalders’s teams hope to increase activism to combat global warming. Finally, Gisele is focusing on reducing everyone’s carbon footprint by limiting food waste.

To get involved with the campaign and choose a team, you can visit the UNEP World Environment Day Website. In addition, you can also tweet your vote by partnering your message with #WorldEnvironmentDay or #WEDchallenge.

This endeavor for World Environment Day is piggybacking off a previously successful UNEP initiative headed by Nachmanaoff that recruited more musically-inclined celebrities to fight climate change. Most notably, The Police granted the rights to their hit song “Message in a Bottle” to headline the 2009 campaign.

Because of the project’s popularity, UNEP decided to employ the same theme for this year’s endeavor. With such dedicated and talented celebrities at their side, the organization is expecting to experience similar success.

– Sam Preston

Sources: Daily Independent, The Star
Photo: News Orena


The conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda was documented by the movie Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle. The movie depicts a Rwandan hotel manager who is caught in the middle of a vicious civil war and protect citizens at his hotel. It highlights the atrocities of the conflict and the lack of aid that Rwandans received during the widespread killing.

Many people do not realize that the Hutu-Tutsi conflict was not exclusive to Rwanda. Burundi, Rwanda’s southern neighbor experience the same conflict at the same time, resulting in the deaths of around 300,000 civilians and the exile or displacement of 1.2 million.

The fighting in Burundi crippled its economy, especially agriculture, and left 80% of Burundians living below the poverty line. Burundi now ranks 185th out of 187 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. Most Burundians are small scale farmers trying desperately to recover from the conflict, with high population, drought, illiteracy, and little access to health and education services exacerbating their woes.

However, now that the country is relatively stable, the Burundian government, with support from the U.N. and USAID, has put itself to the task of combating poverty in Burundi. In July 2011 the government launched a “Vision 2025” plan that sets a goal of reducing poverty to 33% by 2025. The government is focusing on four areas to achieve this goal: improving governance and security, promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth, developing human capital, and combating HIV/AIDS.

USAID has been doing its part to combat poverty in Burundi since the conflict. USAID supported policy reforms that have led to the commercialization of coffee in Burundi, bringing significant amounts of money into the country from coffee exports. USAID has also been trying to strengthen Burundi’s agriculture sector by focusing on soil conservation, improved seed varieties, better crop and livestock production, and rehabilitation of precious marshlands.

The horrors portrayed in Hotel Rwanda shocked American audiences everywhere. Poverty in Burundi and Rwanda has to be addressed to promote stability in the countries in order to prevent future conflicts.

 Martin Drake

Source: Wikimedia Commons