Hollywood Actor and UN Ambassador Edward Norton Launches Bike Ride for Sustainable Communities
Nairobi, 21 February 2011 - Edward Norton, UN Goodwill Ambassador and actor, today flagged off 11 cyclists from the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. The riders are embarking on a transformative journey to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania that will highlight the role of youth in sustainable development.
The ride is the first leg of a three-week campaign by globalbike and the Kilimanjaro Initiative (KI) to bring to light the transformative power of bikes, and the important role that sports can play in promoting sustainable, healthy, and safe communities. Activities as part of this campaign include a giveaway of 114 bicycles to youth and youth mentors in Kenya and Tanzania, a 400-kilometer bike ride from Kenya to Tanzania which ends with an ascent to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mr. Norton presented two locally-sourced bikes to members of local community groups at today's flag-off. Along the bike route 11 members from both organizations will camp in villages where they will distribute bikes to local youth. "We have seen through our projects and events in the United States, Africa and South America how bikes can give support and momentum to a person's life. It is as enriching for them as it is enriching for us," said Curt McPhail, the co-founder of globalbike, inc. "KI is an organization that feels the same way about youth and sport and we are very excited about the synergy we are developing together."
After the bike ride, the cyclists will be joined by 25 climbers - 10 of whom are youth from Kenya and Tanzania, who will also receive bikes - and together they will make their way by foot to the "rooftop of Africa" at 5,895 meters. "Many of the youth groups KI works with in the slums of Nairobi, have the environment as a main focus of their activities. Disenfranchised youth use garbage-collection and recycling as a form of income-generation," said Tim Challen, founder of KI.
"These young women and men epitomize the word 'hope' in an environment that appears unpromising. The theme of this year's climb, and the events that surround it, draw inspiration from their daily struggles, finding ways to support the aspirations of youth and to help raise awareness about the need for all of us to take care of our environment, communities and each other," he added.
KI and globalbike have organized substantive activities and workshops throughout the trip in partnership with private and public partners, at an international and local level. Recognizing the important contribution that is being made by civil society players, such as KI and globalbike, Hein Verbruggen, President of SportAccord, the umbrella organization for all international sports federations and the former president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), has added his support as well.
"By using sport to raise awareness and mobilize local Kenyan and Tanzanian communities around the importance of environmental protection and sustainability, we are also introducing the international sports community to enhanced opportunities to expand the practice of their sports. The 2011 initiative is beyond pure sports development, it is community development through sports that can, in turn, change lives," said Mr. Verbruggen
The Kilimanjaro Initiative 2011 campaign website is at www.rideclimbtransform.org. The site includes additional information about the trip, as well as an ongoing trip blog and follow-along map.
As the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, Mr. Norton later opened the 26th Session of the UNEP Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environment Forum, where 140 environment ministers are gathering for four days in Nairobi, to guide UNEP in its work in addressing the world's pressing environmental challenges.