UNEP at Work                


Ian Joseph Somerhalder born December 8, 1978, is an American model, actor, producer and environmental activist. Somerhalder is an avid environmentalist and has set up his own nonprofit organisation, the an Somerhalder Foundation, to boost awareness about humans’ impact on the planet. In 2004, Somerhalder scored his breakthrough role when he played Boone Carlyle in the hit TV show Lost.

His passion for the environment first gained widespread media attention during the US Gulf Coast oil spill of 2010. His efforts included cleaning of oiled wildlife and taping public service announcements and YouTube videos to let the public know how they could help.

“To me and to the people that go down there, (it’s) one of the most beautiful places in the world. And I actually had to watch it destroyed. And it will be destroyed — forever. My great-grandchildren will not be able to enjoy the Gulf Coast of Louisiana the way I have.”

In May 2010, Somerhalder also filmed a YouTube ‘call to action’ for UNEP urging viewers to pledge/take action for the environment as part of the World Environment Day Challenge between Gisele Bundchen and Don Cheadle.



Roger Payne, who was killed along with six other mountaineers in an avalanche in the Alps on 12 July, was a dedicated, life-long environmentalist and close friend of UNEP. As the former Sports and Development Director of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation and an accomplished climber, he helped spearhead a UNEPbacked expedition in the Himalayas in 2002 to collect first-hand accounts of environmental and climatic changes in the region from local people and monks.

The expedition, in support of the International Year of the Mountains and to provide a report for World Environment Day 2002, was also tasked with filming the formation of glacial lakes — newly emerging bodies of water appearing in mountain regions as a result of melting glaciers. That footage supported work by UNEP and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development based in Nepal which had recorded the emergence of over 40 such lakes and rising concern over potential hazards to communities downstream if they burst their banks — the so called glacial lake outburst floods.

The seven-strong expedition, which included Mr Payne’s wife Julie Ann-Clyma, set off from the spot where in 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay departed to conquer Mount Everest. British-born Roger and his climbers found that the original glacier that had been there in the 1950s had retreated five kilometres up the mountain

UNEP would like to pay tribute to Roger Payne for his life and work while also extending our sincere condolences to his wife and family.



Maurício de Sousa Born in 1935, the Brazilian cartoonist/ animator/filmmaker Mauricio de Sousa has brought to life over 200 cartoon characters for kids, led by his signature group, Monica’s Gang.

Mauricio’s comics have been among the top-selling children’s titles in Brazil for many years. Monica’s Gang is a group of 6 and 7-year-olds created in 1963, each with a unique personality, who have fun doing what kids everywhere like to do. At the heart of the plots is the eternal rivalry between girls and boys to be the leader of the gang. With Monica, Jimmy Five, Maggy and Smudge the result is all kinds of funny, lively, actionfilled stories.

During Rio+20, Mauricio de Sousa announced that he is working on the creation of the “Smudge Waste Plant”, which is being developed in partnership with Japanese researchers. The idea is to deploy waste treatment plants in major Brazilian cities, thus contributing to the end of the dumps in Brazil.

With the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil, Mauricio has been developing storylines that aim at raising environmental awareness among children. For Rio+20, the two institutions launched a comic book on how children and youth can contribute to the preservation of the environment, showing the benefits of recycling and also explaining what the UN Conference was all about.

Using Monica’s strength to draw attention to important messages, Mauricio has produced a large collection of “Comics for a Cause” — stories that both entertain and teach — with more than 70 million of the magazines distributed free of charge. These public service campaigns focus on topics such as health and hygiene, the dangers of smoking and drugs, clean water, safety, the environment, and also UNICEF’s Statutes of the Rights of Children and Adolescents.



Yao Ming the former NBA player travelled to Africa in August for the first time as a global ambassador for WildAid. A committed conservationist, his mission involves coming face-to-face with elephants and rhinos to document a growing crisis blamed partly on soaring Asian demand for rhino horn and ivory products.

“We’re trying to deliver the message back to where I live that the only way to stop poaching is to stop the buying,” the former NBA player told the UK’s The Times newspaper, as he watched a herd of elephants wade across the Ewaso Nyiro river in Kenya. “Here, next to a group of elephants, it feels like you are walking into your neighbour’s house — just we are different animals. We are humans, they are elephants. That’s how I feel.”

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) has warned that the number of elephants killed each year “is likely to run into the tens of thousands”. A report published in July 2012 said that China remained the main destination for large-scale ivory consignments. More than 24 tons of illegal ivory was seized worldwide last year, the most since a ban on the trade was introduced in 1989.

Yao is one of China’s best-known athletes, with sponsorships with several major companies. His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.