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19 JUN 2012

Helena Christensen urges governments to take action at Rio+20 Oxfam Ambassador publishes photos illustrating the impact of climate change ahead of UN conference

Oxfam Global Ambassador, photographer and supermodel Helena Christensen published a booklet of her photographs last week which she is sending to government officials and heads of state attending this week’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The booklet is the culmination of four years’ work with Oxfam in which Helena travelled to Peru, Nepal and Kenya to document the impact of climate change on people’s lives and their ability to produce food.

The booklet entitled “Meltdown” features forty-two photographs in colour, black and white, and in Polaroid format.  Photos from Helena’s first two trips to Peru and Nepal have been exhibited at the United Nations in New York, in Washington, D.C., London and at the climate change talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

Helena said, “I saw the impact of glaciers melting at an alarming rate in my mother’s native Peru, witnessed the aftermath of flooding in Nepal, and met families in Kenya struggling to cope with a severe drought which puts millions at risk of starvation.”

“My photos tell the story of people like Elizabeth, a nomadic Kenyan famer who lost all her animals in the drought, and now struggles everyday selling charcoal to feed her eleven children and grandchildren. It is families like this that, despite contributing the least to the global climate crisis, are bearing the brunt of the impact.”

“The men, women and children in my photographs deserve to live beyond the lens and be remembered by our governments as lives rather than numbers. My images are intended to remind those discussing the fate of our planet that the future is not yet set in stone.”

“I hope that governments meeting at Rio+20 will commit to making the changes so desperately needed to create a future that is safe from the risks of a changing climate, water, land and food shortages, and to set us on the path to a sustainable and prosperous future for everyone.”

World leaders meeting in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June will discuss how to reduce poverty, ensure greater equality and protect the environment so that we can all continue to live and prosper while safeguarding the planet’s finite resources. Oxfam is working with others at Rio+20 to secure action in three key areas:

  • More and better investment and support for sustainable food and agriculture
  • A strong commitment for a single set of goals to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity for all to replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015
  • Delivering energy and cutting emissions in a way that benefits the poorest as well as new commitments to tackle climate change


Notes to Editors and available materials:

** To download Helena’s photographs included in the booklet please go to the following link and credit Helena Christensen:

** For photographs of Helena Christensen in Nepal, Peru and Kenya with Oxfam please use the following link:

** To download a photo gallery of Helena’s booklet photographs (plus code for embed) please click here:

** High quality footage of Helena witnessing and photographing the impacts of climate change in 3 continents can be accessed here:

** The Rio+20 sustainable development conference runs from the 20-22nd June, for more details please go to the United Nations website:

About Oxfam
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 92 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.