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Children raise US$ 21,000 for the fight against climate change

26 children’s paintings sold as part of UNEP’s Paint for the Planet event in New York
New York, 26 October 2008
– In a ray of hope amid the current economic crisis, children from around the world have pulled together and raised US$21,000 for the fight against climate change.

As part of the Paint for the Planet event organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), children’s paintings were auctioned at New York’s Harvard Club to raise money for children in areas affected by climate-related disasters. Proceeds will go to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The 26 paintings on auction were chosen from around 200,000 entries from UNEP’s International Children’s Competition. Showcasing children’s fears and hopes for the planet, they are a powerful plea from children for leadership on climate change before it is too late – reflecting an all-new UNEP-commissioned survey that shows that 90 per cent of young people across the globe think world leaders should do "whatever it takes" to tackle climate change.

In a sign that the children’s message truly resonated, all the paintings in the auction were sold, with the two most sough-after paintings – by 14-year-old Brit Charlotte Sullivan and13-year-old American Renee Wang – fetching US$2,200 each.

Charlotte was one of the six young artists from around the world who came to New York to see their paintings get auctioned, alongside Katherine Liu, 9, from Saratoga (California); Gabrielle Medovoy, 13, from Glenview (Illinois); Guy Jayce Nindorera, 14, from Burundi; Daniela Melendez, 14, from Colombia, and Andrew Bartolo, 15, from Malta.

The auction was attended by UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman and Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as many other distinguished guests from the worlds of art, business and philanthropy.

Paint for the Planet is the launch pad for the ‘UNite to Combat Climate Change’ campaign to support the call for a definitive agreement at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.

All proceeds from the auction will go to UNICEF’s crucial work addressing climate-related emergencies around the world. In 2007, UNICEF responded to 230 emergencies globally, over half of which were caused by natural disasters. Children are primary victims of natural disasters and many of the main killers of children – malaria, diarrhoea and undernutrition – are highly sensitive to climatic conditions.

Recent examples of UNICEF’s emergency work on climate-related disasters include the response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in May and to the storms that battered Haiti in recent months.

In Myanmar, UNICEF provided critical emergency needs including water purification, health kits and food, as well as essential school supplies and learning materials. After Haiti was battered by a series of storms that killed hundreds of people, UNICEF – working with the World Food Programme – mobilized 7.5 metric tons of food and 60,000 litres of drinking water for the affected population.

As well as the auction on 25 October, the Paint for the Planet event features an exhibit at United Nations headquarters which will travel to various climate-related events and meetings around the world over the next year, culminating in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Paint for the Planet is made possible through the generous support of Bayer, Nikon and the Foundation for Global Peace and Environment, which have been UNEP’s key partners for the International Children’s Painting Competition and other children and youth initiatives for many years.

The curatorial partner for Paint for the Planet is the Natural World Museum (NWM), which presents art through innovative programs to inspire and engage the public in environmental awareness and action.

Notes to editors:

About the art and the artists:

Maltese student Andrew Bartolo is a keen environmentalist and Scout. He says: “I have painted a scene that, though slightly extreme, gives an insight into a possible future, one where animals lose their homes and are forced to migrate to unfamiliar territories.”

Katherine Liu is a fifth grade student at Foothill School, Saratoga, California, USA. She says: “If everyone did their part in preventing global warming, we might be able to stop climate change.” Katherine does her bit by recycling, turning off lights whenever she leaves a room, and taking short showers to save water.

Gabrielle Medovoy is an honour student in Springman Middle School, Glenview, IL, USA. Through her painting of penguins on the move she asks “Where are they going? That will be the question when there is no decent place for the penguins to live.”

Fourteen-year-old Daniela Melendez goes to Colegio Hacienda Los Alcaparros in Bogotá, Colombia. She explains: “In my painting I was showing today’s reality, that we TOGETHER are doing it, together we can work it out. We know it’s not who, what or where we are, but what we do that counts.”

Guy Jayce Nindorera from Burundi says that his painting was inspired by the situation in his country but also by reading various articles around the world “where people are dying of hunger and other catastrophes such as the Tsunami, floods and deserts, due to human actions. As a result human beings become victims of their own interventions.”

Charlotte Sullivan lives in Surrey, England and goes to Busbridge Junior School. At only 13, Charlie is already an accomplished artist who has had her own exhibition at London’s prestigious Natural History Museum earlier this year. She says: “The silhouette of a figure in my painting represents the governments’ and global businesses’ idle hold over the world. In the background red, oranges and yellows represent the fossil fuel power plants and the warming of the planet while those that could act use the umbrella to shelter behind.”

About UNEP’s survey on young people’s views on climate change:

The online survey of 12-18 year olds across Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and the United States was conducted for UNEP and carried out by the international polling firm GlobeScan during the month of October 2008. The survey shows that 88 per cent of young people in the five countries agree that “World leaders should do whatever it takes to tackle climate change”.

Young people in South Africa, the United States and Brazil are particularly critical of world leader’s efforts to address climate change; seven in ten or more across these three countries say world leaders are not doing enough (South Africa, 82%; the United States, 79%; Brazil, 73%). There is a great sense of urgency among youth in most countries, with a majority of young people in each country except India saying “It is necessary to take major steps starting very soon” (Brazil, 89%; South Africa, 81%; Russia, 75%; the United States, 61%).

Four in five youths surveyed believe they can make a difference on climate for our future (89%); however, a majority also say they need more information about what they can do to tackle climate change (84%).

More information on the survey results is available at www.unep.org  

For more information, visit www.unep.org/paint4planet  or contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20 7623084; Mobile in Kenya +254 (0) 733 632755; Mobile when travelling +41 79 596 57 37, or E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org 

Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on Tel: +254 (0)20 762 3088; Mobile in Kenya: +254 (0)728 600 494, or E-mail: anne-france.white@unep.org

Monday 27 Oct 2008
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