Nairobi/San Francisco, 3 June 2005 – A 'green' ark carrying life and hope sails on a grey sea under a polluted sky. Two arrows point along diverging paths towards the future – one bright and green with nations working in harmony, the other towards environmental degradation and death.
These are some of the images that have been chosen as the winners of the fourteenth International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment, organised by UNEP, Bayer AG and the Foundation for Global Peace and Environment. This year’s theme was Green Cities, the motto of World Environment Day 2005.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said: "All pictures hold a special power, triggering real action and changing the hearts and the minds of those who view them. Seeing the world and our environment through the eyes of children puts into sharp focus the responsibility we have towards them and towards the future."
A preliminary round of regional competitions resulted in six winners being chosen. Shortlisted paintings from the six regions then led to the selection of a global winner.
The winners are:
A stark warning emanates from US-based Ryotaro Sato's watercolour: one arrow directs us towards clean skies and a harmonious future, the other points towards a dead tree under a leaden sky.
Commenting about his painting, Ryotaro (15) said: “My wish was to illustrate a globe, centred on the United Nations, coming together as one. By portraying a land full of bright, vivid greenery, with contrast to a land, dark and perishing with decay, I was able to picture how our future will change, depending on how different countries work together for a common future. The message that I wanted to send out is that whatever road our future may take, it all depends upon us, the people of the globe.”
African regional winner:
Ranjani Dharamajan (10) from Kenya drew a picture, which shows two contrasting scenarios of an actual city and what a city should be in a perfect world.
“Today the forests are being destroyed to create space for buildings and factories", Ranjani said. "The air, land and sea are being constantly polluted. I felt that to bring back the original green city we need magic. So, I drew an ‘Aladdin's Lamp’ which could make our wish come true, - that would bring back the Green Cities.”
Asia and Pacific regional winner:
Thirteen-year-old Mahdi Nurcahyo from Indonesia displayed much artistic talent in a pop-art illustration of people living in harmony with nature and animals.
European regional winner:
Bulgarian prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg personally congratulated regional winner Iskren Petrov (14) whose picture of an 'environmental' ark sailing on a polluted sea turned him into an over-night celebrity in his home country.
Latin American and Caribbean regional winner:
Mexican schoolgirl Raquel Haiat Sasson at 9 years old is the youngest winner this year. Her entry is a colourful landscape of a perfect world: a rising sun shines onto a pristine town on the banks of a crystal-clear river, surrounded by rolling verdant hills.
North American regional winner:
Yian Shang (13) from Cupertino, California (USA), impressed the judges with her ethereal drawing combining industrial and transport images with lush vegetation.
West Asian regional winner:
Children working cheerfully in a fertile garden, gathering fruits and tending the ground along a gushing stream, are the subject of the winning entry by 12-year-old Maya Shafick Hajeh from Syria.
All seven children, together with their chaperones, will travel to San Francisco to attend the World Environment Day celebrations that are being held in the city 1 - 5 June 2005. There they will be honoured in a special ceremony, sponsored by Bayer. All winners will receive a certificate and a plaque, a cash prize, and special prizes such as drawing kits and environmental stationery. The winning paintings will be shown in exhibitions in the USA, Japan and other countries. They and other selected paintings will also be used on UNEP posters, post cards, calendars, and in publications.
"We are very happy to support the International Children's Painting Competition as one of the important projects of Bayer's partnership with UNEP”, said Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, and added: “Sustainable development is an integral element of all our business and social activities worldwide and with our commitment we strive to safeguard a good future for ourselves, our children and for the succeeding generations."
UNEP has entered into a three-year partnership with Bayer AG to support the implementation of UNEP's long-term TUNZA strategy for engaging children and youth in environmental issues.
The children's painting competition is jointly organised each year by UNEP, Bayer AG and the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE). The painting competition has been held since 1990 and in that time has received over 160,000 entries from children in over 100 countries. Eventually all paintings submitted to the global competition will be stored at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan.
This year's competition is also supported by the National Museum of Ethnology - Japan -, the Japanese Ministries of the Environment, Foreign Affairs, Education, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Japan-Arab Association.
UNEP News Release 2005/28