Ambassador Julia Roberts

You read that correctly. The Hollywood star Julia Roberts is lending her talents to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves as the Alliance’s first Global Ambassador.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 to help combat one of the most overlooked and deadly causes of illness worldwide: inhalation of smoke emitted from traditional cooking methods. Anyone who has visited rural places in the developing world is familiar with the scene of a woman cooking a meal over a pit in the middle of her one room home.  The smoke is overwhelming to visitors unaccustomed to it, yet this is where people eat, live and sleep. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die annually from respiratory illness caused by traditional cooking methods.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a partnership between the United States State Department, the UN Foundation, several private companies, NGOs, governments and international organizations. Its aim is that 100 million homes will adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020, as a first step toward universal adoption.

Julia Roberts will bring some starpower to this effort. “Nearly 2 million people around the world – mostly women and children – die each year from an activity that many of us take for granted: cooking for our families,” Roberts said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with Secretary Clinton to work to reduce the senseless and preventable deaths from unsafe cooking conditions in developing countries and I look forward to contributing to the important work of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.”

Well said, Ambassador.

Here’s some info on the issue from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves: