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UNDP Salutes Heroes of the Environment

Kenyans and Moroccan receive top awards for Africa eco-themed photo contest

New York, 18 November, 2009—The winning photographs of an eco-themed photo contest focused on Africa feature environmentalists planting trees in a water catchment area in Kenya, Moroccan women turning plastic bags into handbags as part of a fair trade project, and a Kenyan couple planting a tree on their wedding day.

“By showing us what ordinary citizens of Africa are doing to tackle climate change, we see the extraordinary power of photographs to tell stories,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.  “These photographs will help carry the message to Copenhagen that the poorest and most vulnerable stand to lose the most from climate change, and must be part of any agreement.”

The Picture This: Caring for the Earth photo contest was organized earlier this year by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Olympus Corporation and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation, and aimed to profile ordinary people working to preserve the environment and reduce the effects of climate change in their communities.

The first prize winners are Jacob Otieno, a Kenyan newspaper photo editor, in the professional category; Faiza Hajji Wozniak, a social entrepreneur from Morocco, in the photo essay category and Simon Ndegwa, a Kenyan youth pastor in the amateur category. Tonight, Miss Clark will present the winners with their awards, which include a certificate of acknowledgement from UNDP, and digital cameras and camera equipment from Olympus Corporation.  The winner of the professional category will receive a two-week internship at one of AFP’s bureaus in Africa. The second and third place winners are from Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Senegal and South Africa, and will all receive digital cameras from Olympus.

Olympus provides extensive support to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a member of the United Nations Global Compact. This project is shining a spotlight on ordinary people’s actions, which when combined, demonstrate a massive commitment to preserving our world,” said Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, President of Olympus. “As private companies, and at an individual level, we all stand to lose if we do not engage in this movement.” The contest was inspired by the upcoming 15th Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, which will witness a gathering of 15,000 officials from 192 countries. 

“Climate change has no respect for borders, and so the media’s role in documenting how people in different parts of the world are coping with its effects is very important, as it can also inspire action in others,” said Robert Holloway, Director of the AFP Foundation. “We at the AFP Foundation are encouraged by the images produced in this contest, both by the professional and amateur photographers, and look forward to collaborating further with them.”
The photo contest jurors were Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai and four professional photojournalists, including Peter Magubane, one of South Africa’s most internationally acclaimed photographers, and John Isaac, Olympus Visionary photographer, and who also was a photojournalist with the United Nations for nearly 30 years. 

Protecting the environment and working to mitigate the effects of climate change lie at the heart of UNDP’s mandate. We help developing countries adapt to climate change while reducing poverty through improving disaster coping methods, strengthening institutions and charting a low-carbon development path because climate change demands that we grow in a different way.

For more information on the winners and the photo contest, see: http://www.undp.org/picturethis

Olympus Corporation: Established in 1919, Olympus Corp., Tokyo, Japan, manufactures and sells precision machinery and instruments for medical and healthcare, imaging and information, and industrial applications. Its core competency is Opto-digital technology, which is a fusion of traditional optical technology with advanced digital and fine processing technologies. For more information, visit: www.olympus.com.

The AFP Foundation was set up by Agence France-Presse in 2007 to train young photographers and reporters, especially in developing countries. It exists in the belief that free, independent and responsible media can help people make informed decisions about their lives and thus help reduce poverty, promote development and defend human rights. It seeks to raise journalists' professional standards in accordance with its code of conduct and to promote press freedom. The AFP Foundation supports efforts to improve the working conditions of journalists and the protection of those working in combat zones and other dangerous areas, especially freelance reporters and photographers. It also supports efforts to elevate the status of women in the news media. For more information, visit: http://fondation.afp.com/english/

UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners. For more information, visit: www.undp.org

For further information, please contact:
In New York: Sandra Macharia, Tel.: + 1 212-906-5377; E-mail: sandra.macharia@undp.org
UNDP Newsroom: Tel: +1-212-906-5382