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Danish supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen became an Oxfam ambassador in 2010. A committed campaigner and authoritative spokesperson, Helena is passionate about tackling climate change and helping vulnerable communities adapt to changes and beat poverty.
In 2009, Helena travelled to Peru – her mother’s native country – to document the dramatic effect that climate change is having on people there. Helena climbed 15,000 feet into the Andes to see the Ausangate glacier, which is melting at an alarming rate. For thousands of years, the glacier has helped sustain the livelihoods of those living at the foot of the mountain. She saw rivers that are drying up and talked to local farmers about the lack of rainfall.
Watch: Helena Christensen visits Peru with Oxfam
‘Meltdown’, an exhibition of her photograph’s from the trip, premiered at the United Nations in New York when the UN General Assembly met in September 2009. From here they embarked on a global tour – they have been displayed in Lima, London and in Helena’s hometown of Copenhagen at the 2009 UN Conference on Climate Change.
Helena says: “Like millions of other poor people from around the world, from Mali to the Maldives, the people of the Ausangate are living on the front lines of climate change. While they have contributed least to the climate crisis, they are suffering the hardest from its impacts, from increasing floods to more frequent droughts, from desertification to rising sea levels. We must help them. Climate change is not a dreamed-up concept; it’s a living nightmare.”
Helena has also travelled to Nepal and Kenya with Oxfam, meeting and photographing people affected by climate change. On her trip to Turkana, Northern Kenya, in December 2011, Helena met families struggling to cope with the severe drought which has put over 13 million people across East Africa at risk. She witnessed, first-hand, the impact that extreme weather events – which are set to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change - pose to food security in pastoralist communities, at a time when the price of food and fuel are sky-rocketing.
Also in 2011, Helena joined Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which calls for a new approach to managing the world’s natural resources. One where climate change is kept in check by a global climate deal that actually works and where we grow more sustainably – producing more food and fewer greenhouse gases.
“For me, food and family go together. There’s nothing I like more than gathering my family around the table to share food and conversation. Other families aren’t so lucky. One in seven people are going hungry today and the effects of climate change are making it even harder to feed the world. GROW is calling on governments to create a new future in which everyone’s family can sit around the table to eat and talk.”
Helena also represented Oxfam at the Dubai International Film Festival, where she spoke at a gala event and helped raise over $1 million for Oxfam’s work.