banderas.pngSpanish actor Antonio Banderas has agreed to act as U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against poverty, the United Nations Development Program announced Wednesday.

In his new role as an advocate for the poor, Antonio Banderas will set his sights on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight globally agreed targets that seek to halve world poverty by 2015 by combating hunger, disease, illiteracy, environment degradation and discrimination against women.

“Poverty robs us of our potential as a people, preventing us from being all that we can be,” said Banderas. “This is why it is so important to mobilize all of our efforts to defeat it, especially if today we have the knowledge, the tools and the resources to do it.” Banderas said he will work with UNDP to spur action at all levels of society in pursuit of the MDGs with a particular focus on Africa and Latin America.

Banderas will also raise awareness of the activities of the MDG Achievement Fund, an international effort to accelerate progress on the MDGs. Established in December 2006 with a generous contribution of €528 million Euros ($710 Million) from the Spanish Government to the United Nations system, the MDG-F supports national governments, local authorities and citizen organizations in their efforts to tackle poverty and inequality.

Banderas, who is a passionate football fan, said he is thrilled to join sports champions and UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors Didier Drogba, Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane in their work with the organization. Other UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors include tennis star Maria Sharapova, Japanese actress Misako Konno and Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway.

Banderas was born in Màlaga, Spain, and is a much acclaimed actor, writer, singer and producer. His films include Assassins, Evita, Interview with the Vampire, Philadelphia, the Mask of Zorro, and Mariachi. Banderas will soon appear with Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Freida Pinto in in a new Woody Allen film and is concurrently writing, directing and producing a film about Boabdil (Abu Abdullah Muhammad XII), the last Muslim ruler of Granada, Spain.

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