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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) has named Spanish actor Antonio Banderas as a "Goodwill Ambassador" for the global fight against poverty, the agency announced on Wednesday.
The UNDP said Banderas will use his celebrity status to draw attention to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets aimed at halving world poverty by 2015 by combating hunger, disease, illiteracy, pollution and discrimination against women.
"Poverty robs us of our potential as a people, preventing us from being all that we can be," Banderas said in a statement. "This is why it is so important to mobilize all of our efforts to defeat it."
UNDP chief Helen Clark said Banderas' "proven commitment to the causes of the less fortunate makes him an ideal advocate for our work."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned U.N. member states on Tuesday that progress toward achieving the MDGs has been uneven, and stepped-up efforts would be needed to meet the targets for many countries.
Banderas, 49, was born in Malaga, Spain. He is an actor, author, singer and producer. He is currently writing, directing and producing a film about Boabdil, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad XII, the last Muslim ruler of Granada, Spain.
Other UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors include tennis star Maria Sharapova, Japanese actress Misako Kono and Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway.
Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Eric Walsh