NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–9 June 2011. Nine-time Olympic gold medallist and United Nations advocate Carl Lewis will embark tomorrow on a visit to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to meet with national leaders and visit forestry and agricultural projects.
The United States track star, who was designated a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in October 2009, will highlight the International Year of Forests during his stop in the Dominican Republic.
In February the UN kicked off a year-long celebration to raise awareness of the valuable role of forests, on which at least 1.6 billion people depend for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs.
Mr. Lewis will also spotlight a global campaign by FAO to end hunger known as “The 1billionhungry project,” through which people can voice their outrage about world hunger by adding their names to an online petition. The campaign uses a yellow whistle as an icon encouraging people to blow the whistle against this global scourge.
During his visit to Haiti, which begins on 13 June, Mr. Lewis will see first-hand an FAO project aimed at stabilizing the soil and forests in the mountains near the epicentre of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
The impoverished Caribbean nation is one of the most deforested in the world, according to FAO, with only 2 per cent of forest cover left. Deforestation in Haiti makes the country extremely vulnerable to flash floods and landslides.
Mr. Lewis’ trip comes at the start of hurricane season, which officially began on 1 June. Severe flooding has been reported in both countries, which share the same island.
UN peacekeepers and humanitarian staff have been helping with relief efforts in Haiti, where floods sparked by torrential rains earlier this week have killed at least 10 people in the capital, Port-au-Prince.