Ronaldo Ambassador For Fight Against Poverty
Football Legend Ronaldo is UNDP Ambassador For
Fight Against Poverty
"OVER 80 COUNTRIES HAVE
LOWER PER CAPITA INCOMES TODAY THAN THEY DID 10 YEARS AGO", ACCORDING TO UNDP
International football star
Ronaldo will be appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against poverty by
UNDP (United Nations Development programme) on 1 February, in Geneva. Ronaldo
will contribute to UNDP’s global mobilisation effort to trigger dynamic action
against poverty and inequalities and stimulate greater international
cooperation. Extreme poverty, which affects 2 billion people in the developing
world and at least 100 million in industrialised countries, could be overcome
within the next two decades through a concerted social and political commitment,
pro-poor policies and just 1% of the world’s revenue.
"Ronaldo, and other world personalities can help us
take poverty eradication to the top of political agendas," says
Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP’s chief executive. "The
challenge is perhaps the greatest one we face at the threshold of the 21st
century, but we now know it is within our reach. The resources, know-how and
technologies are there, we just need to put them at the disposal of the poorest,
and fill the gap of inequalities."
As Ambassador, Ronaldo will use as many public occasions as possible to bring
home the message that everyone can contribute to the fight against poverty
and that even small actions can make a world of difference. He was in Kosovo in
September 1999 to launch UNDP’s global mobilisation campaign "Teams to End
Poverty" and set the example by donating a cheque for the rehabilitation of a
school in Gjakove.
For the same campaign, he has teamed up with football colleague Zinédine
Zidane in an advertisement that will appear in the world’s magazines and
newspapers in the coming months. The advertisement, which combines the appeal of
international celebrities with the power of publicity, is the first of a series
featuring a host of other international personalities calling on individuals,
institutions, and private as well as public entities to mobilise with concrete
actions against poverty.
In the past few years, Ronaldo has been particularly committed to the cause
of poor children in Brazil and finances projects to assist children living in
the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. He has supported the inter-agency efforts of
UNAIDS as special representative in its 1998 and 1999 awareness raising
campaigns against HIV/AIDS.
"Each goal I score is like a message of encouragement
to the poor," Ronaldo has said. "Poor
people need to know that they are not forgotten and that the world is doing
something to change their situation."
In spite of widespread poverty, humanity has made more progress in decreasing
the proportion of the poor in the last 50 years than in the previous 500. Global
wealth is at its peak, standing at US $ 25 trillion. In developing countries,
adult illiteracy has been reduced by nearly half; infant mortality has been cut
by almost three fifths; and average life expectancy has increased by 17 years.
However, progress is at serious risk if countries do not reverse the recent
downward trend in official aid to development. Contributions have dropped
dramatically from an already low 0.33% of rich countries’ GDP in 1992, to a
current average of less than 0.25%.
Today, two billion of the globe’s people struggle to survive on incomes of less
than $2 a day and each year poverty adds another 25 million to its ranks. Over
80 countries have lower per capita incomes today than they did 10 years ago.
Among the 4.4 billion people who live in developing countries, almost
three-fifths live in communities without basic sanitation; almost one-third are
without safe drinking water; one-quarter lack adequate housing; one-fifth live
beyond reach of modern health services; one-fifth of the children do not get as
far as grade five in school, and an equal percentage are undernourished.
The nomination of Ronaldo is one of numerous activities UNDP has initiated to
sensitise and mobilise all sectors of society. It is a contribution to the
International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006), designated by
the UN General Assembly. As the leading UN agency in the fight against poverty
and the promotion of sustainable human development, UNDP is committed to making
the next decade a period of real change and tangible results. To that end, it
will inform on various aspects of poverty in the world and the way it affects
our lives and the future of all, aiming to mobilise decision-makers, individuals
and their associations in a global push for broad activism against poverty.
"The objective is ambitious," adds Mark
Malloch Brown. "It requires new partnerships, solid
commitments, and above all the will to make concrete changes."
Winner of 10 international, regional and national awards and twice World Best
Player (1996 and 1997), Ronaldo was born in Bento Ribeiro, a poor neighbourhood
in Rio de Janeiro, in 1976. Like many of his contemporaries, he began to play
football in the streets of his neighbourhood and at age 14 was signed up by his
first club. His first European experience with Dutch team PSV Eindhoven launched
him into a star-studded career at European level and internationally with
champion national team Brazil. At the age of twenty-three, Ronaldo stands as one
of the most successful football players in history.