Globally and regionally renowned personalities have long played an effective advocacy and awareness raising role in sustainable development issues. In today’s social media dominated discourse, their ability to connect with their millions of fans using TikTok, Instagram or Twitter is immediate, spontaneous, and generates real engagement. That’s why the UNCCD is committed to working with people whom we love and respect, and can help share our message across the world.
We are honoured they have chosen to work with us to achieve the objectives of the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework.
Some help us to raise public awareness about the challenges of land degradation, desertification, and drought. Others use their reach to encourage decision makers to factor in the importance of land use planning and management and ecosystem restoration in policy agendas.
The Land Ambassadors programme asks our partners to inspire the public and decision makers to take practical and policy actions to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. It also wants to connect the UNCCD more deeply with youth, children, and women. With our Ambassadors, we believe that empowering women and achieving gender equality is an integral part of the message we want to share with the world.
Baaba Maal is a world-renowned Senegalese singer and guitarist who has released albums since 1989, in a music career lauded across the world. His unique voice has recently featured on the sound track of the international blockbuster Black Panther, a film that won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for its music score.
Since 2003, he has been committed to various development challenges in Africa, working with different UN family organisations. His Senegalese home means he actively supports a new narrative for the Sahel: a region of opportunities, rich in traditional culture, where a Great Green Wall will power a transformation of the lives of millions of humanity’s most vulnerable people and create new green jobs, harnessing the Sahel’s abundant solar energy and creating a peaceful and prosperous future on land.
My music and songs use many words to describe the beauty of the Sahel – but now the beauty is disappearing and people are moving away from their villages. I want my music to call people to fix things, again. The first step is planting trees.
— Baaba Maal
Ricky Kej is known internationally as a music composer, US Billboard chart No.1 artist and a Grammy winner. He is also a passionate advocate for sustainable development and environment action.
In 2019, Ricky composed the COP14 anthem “Born from the Land’, and performed it with his co-writer and fellow Ambassador, Baaba Maal – having recorded it for release just the day before the performance! The official music video was released on World Soil Day in December 2019, and has since been enjoyed nearly 400,000 times by fans on YouTube.
We are amazed and incredibly proud of this success, because in the end, the wide dissemination of our message benefits everyone living on the land… which means literally everybody! Land is the basis for human health, livelihoods and for our economic, cultural and spiritual well-being.
— Ricky Kej
Inna Modja is a Malian actress, singer and environmental activist who appeared in, and wrote the music for, the UNCCD’s 2019 Great Green Wall documentary. The acclaimed film followed her extraordinary journey through Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Niger and Ethiopia, and was a collaboration with Oscar nominated producer Fernando Meirelles.
With a strong following in Francophone west Africa and France, Inna is a leader among the young people committed to changing the narrative of the Sahel. Her music, energy, passion, and humanitarian works resonate with her audiences worldwide.
The Great Green Wall is not just about planting trees. It has to become a movement. From the whole continent….from the whole world.
— Inna Modja
Tarja Halonen was Finland’s first female President, retiring from service in 2012. With a long and distinguished political career founded on strong support for social justice and equality, she remains a leading global advocate for climate justice and sustainable development. She has served as a UNCCD Ambassador since 2014.
Sustainable development, poverty eradication and the empowerment of women are very close to my heart. The work of the UNCCD focusing on the promotion of sustainable land management and agriculture, and soil protection, are central tools for tackling poverty. I intend to promote sustainable land management at all levels, and its inclusion in the new sustainable development goals and the post-2015 Development Agenda. This is crucial for effective poverty eradication.
— Tarja Halonen
Liu Fangfei is a prominent CCTV anchor and presenter, based in China. With an extensive TV career behind her and huge recognition among China’s 1.3 billion people, she is a passionate advocate for a range of environmental causes.
As a UNCCD Land Ambassador, her campaigning focuses on protecting land resources, reducing deforestation, soil erosion and surface water flooding. Her platform? Encouraging the Chinese public to use and reuse handkerchiefs instead of disposable paper tissues. The ‘Green Handkerchief’ initiative has been her main focus for recent years, and has maintained its prominence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, all public transportation swipe cards in Beijing currently sport a Green Handkerchief design.
I am delighted to see that each time public transport is used, Beijing residents will see our designs and become more conscious of our green message and the work of the UNCCD. Let’s join hands and give our home – the Earth – a more beautiful future.
— Liu Fangfei
Byong Hyon Kwon is a distinguished Korean diplomat, lawyer and academic. After his professional retirement, Kwon founded Future Forest in 2001, to raise awareness of desertification and yellow dust storms, to promote the participation of young people in environmental activities, and to establish friendship among youth. In 2005, Future Forest began constructing the “Korea-China Friendship Great Green Wall” made of natural forests in order to "tame the yellow dragon" – the encroaching desert sands.
Future Forest aims to plant one billion trees in China’s Kubuchi Desert to demonstrate that degraded land can be reclaimed, and to act as a case study for reclaiming degraded land. The Great Green Wall has already staked a literal foothold in the desert, with a 70 percent success rate in tree planting.
Desertification is one of the most severe and most serious problems we are now facing. We are trying to stand up in action in preventing and combatting decertification. We are dedicated and devoted and determined to do every effort to prevent desertification.
— Byong Hyon Kwon