Jamaican sprinter and Olympic champion Usain Bolt today launched the Long Run Initiative aimed at supporting global ecotourism projects, which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says are vital for conserving natural and cultural heritage.
"Although I am known for running short distances, I want to inspire others to join me in the long run.
Anything worth doing is worth striving for and the future of our planet is the ultimate cause," said Mr. Bolt, the Cultural Ambassador for the Zeitz Foundation, which sponsors the initiative.
The pilot project of the initiative is a 50-acre solar and wind-powered conservancy in Kenya's Rift Valley region with a negligible carbon footprint, according to a UNEP press release.
It also plans to launch projects in Brazil, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sweden and Namibia.
Jochen Zeitz, founder of the Zeitz Foundation, said the main inspiration for the project was the 2009 film about the state of the planet, Home, by renowned French filmmaker and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
"The stunning depiction of the workings of the planet demonstrates that we can all make a contribution to a sustainable world," he said.
UNEP is particularly interested in ecotourism for its impact on conservation, sustainability, and biological diversity.
The agency noted that ecotourism advances the basic goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity by strengthening protected area management and increasing the value of ecosystems and wildlife.
It also offers a sustainable approach to conservation by helping generate income, jobs and business opportunities, benefiting businesses and local communities.