New York, United States, 31 January 2012 – On 24th January 2012, Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, Drylands Ambassador visited the New York Liaison Office of the UNCCD. She was accompanied by Brenda C. Mendoza, Director, Public Relations from the Miss Universe Organisation. This is the first visit by Miss Universe to the UNCCD secretariat since her appointment as Drylands Ambassador. She was received by the officer in charge Ms. Nandhini Iyer Krishna who is also a joint staff of the UNCCD and CBD. Miss Universe received a detailed briefing on the work of the UNCCD Convention secretariat, and the importance of issues relating to Drought, Land Degradation and Desertification as part of her assumption of her duties as Drylands Ambassador. Miss Lopes is the first Miss Universe to be appointed as Drylands Ambassador and in that capacity will take a lead in raising international awareness about desertification, land degradation and drought, causes and possible solutions.
Miss Lopes comes from the African region where desertification, is the foremost environmental challenge. Part of her home country of Angola is threatened by desertification. She hopes to advance the cause by promoting a land degradation neutral world. By ensuring that land we lose due to degradation is compensated by the land we reclaim or improve we can make sure that we are good stewards of the land for future generations for whom we hold it in trust.