Maria Sharapova, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador on Chernobyl

New York, 14 February 2007

On 14 February 2007, at a ceremony at United Nations Headquarters, tennis star Maria Sharapova was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme and announced a donation of US$100,000 to UNDP Chernobyl-recovery projects.

Chernobyl is just the beginning of Sharapova's global engagement in the fight against poverty and to achieve the MDGs, but the region that the tennis star still calls home is a particularly good place for her to start. "I'm sure when Maria will be there, people will recognize her as a daughter of the region and they will also sense that they are not left alone", said Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator. Maria is a perfect example of how adversity can be overcome through determination and hard work, and young people in her native region will listen particularly carefully when she gives advice on healthy lifestyles and responsible choices. It also seems a logical and natural choice for Maria who has family ties to the region and an understanding of its developmental challenges. Ms. Sharapova expressed a strong desire to first visit the Chernobyl region to spread the message of hope in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Maria Sharapova's donation from the newly created Maria Sharapova Foundation will fund Chernobyl recovery projects in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine - the three countries most affected by Chernobyl. These projects will complement a broad portfolio of UN work helping Chernobyl-affected communities regain a sense of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. The sort of community-driven development effort that UNDP is supporting in Chernobyl is exactly what UNDP strives to do in many other areas around the world, whether in the aftermath of an armed conflict or a natural disaster, or simply to address the decline and neglect that so often affects rural villages. Having Maria as an advocate on UNDP Chernobyl team, will give these efforts a new momentum, and to Maria - experience to be taken to other continents of the world.

Press release

Description of projects supported by the Maria Sharapova Foundation

Remarks by Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator, at the appointment ceremony

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