The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) appointed the Lebanese Endurance Sports Professional, Michael Haddad, as a Regional Goodwill Ambassador to support and accelerate actions addressing the adverse effects of climate change in the Middle East and around the world.
In this context, the statement of Mourad Wahba, the Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and acting UNDP Associate Administrator and Regional Director, came as follows:
"We cannot afford to face today's climate threats. Our region is already the planet’s most water-insecure and food import-dependent, with temperatures rising faster than the global average. In our quest for peace and prosperity for all, and to meet the challenge of climate change as enriched in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we urgently need this important role model and inspiring model of dedicated environmental advocates represented by Michael Haddad."
Michael Haddad commented on the news of his appointment, "Climate change must be at the top of the list of priority concerns that drive us all to work. In Lebanon, through the Arab region, and everywhere."
He added, "I am very excited to work closely with UNDP to help highlight the greatest threat to our common humanity today. We must all take action to counter this threat. As individuals, communities, nations, and a united global community, we have nowhere else than this planet to rely on for our lives."
Michael Haddad is a paralyzed professional athlete, who survived a Jet Ski accident at the young age of 6 but not without a fractured spine that left him paralyzed, with 75 percent of his motor function lost.
Even though he was told he would never walk again, he found ways to balance and stand by devising his own "step-to-gait" method of movement, using a high-tech exoskeleton to stabilize his chest and legs.
In the past ten years, Michael managed to complete three record-setting feats in his native Lebanon, and that in extreme environments, breaking all barriers and becoming an inspiration to all.
In 2013, he completed a 60,000-step "Cedar Walk" in Bsharre to mobilize action for reforestation of Lebanon’s cedar woods. A year later, in 2014, he scaled Beirut's Raouche Rock to highlight the escalating problem of sea pollution and its threat to marine life.
In 2015, he snowshoed the Black Summit, the highest peak in Lebanon and the Levant region to draw attention to the adverse impacts of global warming. And, in 2016-2017, he was already serving as UNDP Climate Change Champion in Lebanon. Let's hear what he has to tell us: