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Hélèna Christensen on climate change: politicians’ ‘groundhog day’ is costing lives


November 23, 2010/10.25

Hélèna Christensen and Oxfam
Hélèna Christensen and Oxfam
Hélèna Christensen and Oxfam

Hélèna Christensen is one of the most active supermodels: today as an Oxfam Global Ambassador and photographer, she is raising awareness of climate change.
   Through her photography, Christensen has been documenting the plight of villages that are experiencing more extreme weather patterns.
   Christensen’s photographs will be exhibited in 2011–12 to continue raising awareness for climate change.
   One visit has been to the Terai region in the Himalayas. Oxfam says there is erratic weather that includes ‘cold waves’, droughts and heavy rainfall, all of which have destroyed crops and livelihoods.
   ‘So we are back again, this time in Nepal talking with people who are suffering the same ongoing consequences of climate change. Despite the fact that there is greater awareness of climate change world leaders have failed to make the big decisions needed which has left our poorest people increasingly vulnerable,’ says Christensen.
   Last year, Christensen attended the COP15 climate change talks in København and notes that little has been done.
   ‘One of the women I spoke to, 55-year-old Kamalawati, told me her home was destroyed during a flood and they had to build a new house with mud and bamboo. She doesn’t have the money to build it on raised concrete platforms and is scared for the next time the rains fall heavily,’ she says.
   ‘It’s deeply frustrating that nothing has changed.­ It’s like we are watching another groundhog day but the frightening reality is that this is costing thousands of lives now. In Cancun at the climate conference next week, governments should not be allowed to once again avoid taking the decisions needed.
   ‘Countries all over the world are drowning yet none of the powerful nations dare to be the first to throw in the lifesavers. They have to deliver real results that will get a climate deal back on track. Progress on a climate fund to help vulnerable people adapt to drastic weather changes is imperative and furthermore will restore trust in the negotiations.’
Oxfam Unwrapped   One way to help Oxfam as an organization is to consider gift-giving. Instead of purchasing a traditional gift, people can give directly to communities.
   By buying a gift from Oxfam Unwrapped, gifters receive a card to give to a recipient, detailing a gift they have made on their behalf.
   These are not one-offs. Oxfam says, ‘If someone buys a goat, for example, the gift will be used in a project that includes goats and will contribute to the cost of buying local goats, getting them to families they will be helping, training the families in how to care for them and other essential parts of rural livelihood, which helps farmers take their first step out of poverty.’
   Lucire has looked at two gifts in particular: NZ$18 can secure three ducks, which can help change the life of a family in Indonesia. ‘Ducks provide eggs, which in turn produce more ducks and eggs that can be sold to create income. They also eat insects and snails, and that helps farmers protect their vegetable gardens,’ says Oxfam.
Oxfam Unwrapped   In addition, a NZ$40 gardener’s pack consisting of a shovel, hoe, watering can and seeds can help a family in Indonesia or Papua grow more food, improve their diets, and sell any extra to help their income.
   More details of the purchases can be found at

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