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 and photographer Helena Christensen today published a booklet of her photographs which she is sending to government officials and heads of state attending next week’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The booklet is the culmination of four years work with Oxfam in which Helena traveled 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 color, 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, London and at the climate change talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

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

“My photos tell the story of people like Elizabeth, a nomadic Kenyan farmer 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.”

Helena said; “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 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 – 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.

Related links

Helena Christensen's work as an Oxfam Global Ambassador

Notes to editors

Contact information

Georgette Thomas, +44 (0)7824 503108, gthomas@oxfam.org.uk