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June 19, 2009

Updated: July 23, 2009

UNDP launches photo contest in Africa to identify
champions of the environment

New York, 19 June, 2009 -The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Olympus Corporation and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation, launched an Africa-based, eco-themed photo contest today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The contest, titled "Picture This: Caring for the Earth," aims to profile ordinary people working to reduce the effects of climate change in their countries, cities and communities and is open to anyone residing in Africa.

Entries -either single photos or photo essays- must highlight stories that show the people of Africa as stewards of their natural environment. Special attention will be given to photos that take into account the role that women play in protecting their environment. In order to make the contest accessible to all, UNDP along with the AFP Foundation and Olympus is mobilizing all of its social networks, websites and country offices to spread the word across the continent.

"Not only do people in the developing world stand to lose the most from the effects of climate and environmental degradation but they also know the most about what is happening to the natural resources and environment that they depend on for their health, livelihoods and survival," said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, at the contest launch.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai is one of five judges who will choose the winning photos. The other four are all professional photo-journalists, including Peter Magubane, one of South Africa's most internationally acclaimed photographers. Contestants may enter either in an amateur or a professional category and the deadline for entries is 30 September 2009.
Picture This: Caring for the Earth

The AFP Foundation is pleased to support the contest, which corresponds to our objectives," said Robert Holloway, Director of the AFP Foundation. "We believe that the media should help people make informed decisions about their lives and that this can reduce poverty and promote development. The photo competition aims to do that, by showing how ordinary Africans deal with the effects of climate change and environmental degradation."

Olympus will provide digital cameras to the winners. The AFP Foundation will sponsor one winner from the professional categories to participate in a two week working fellowship with an AFP bureau in Africa. The first prize winners in all categories will be flown to an awards ceremony and launch of an exhibition of the winning entries in New York in October. The exhibition of winning photos will then travel to Tokyo and Johannesburg. The contest is inspired by the upcoming 15th Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, which will witness a gathering of 15,000 officials from 200 countries.

"We hope that through this project, people will be inspired by images showing that the simplest of actions, no matter who you are or where you live, can make a real difference in the effort to halt or mitigate the destruction of our natural world," said Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, CEO of Olympus. "Throwing our hands up in defeat in the face of climate change and environmental degradation simply isn't an option."

Protecting the environment and working to mitigate the effects of climate change lie at the heart of UNDP's mandate. This is especially true in Africa where water scarcity, crop failures and health risks associated with temperature changes are already being seen.

However, while the poorest in developing countries are often the first to feel the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, they should not always be seen as helpless. They are also the true experts and potentially the most powerful advocates for protecting their environment.

For more information:

Olympus Corporation: Originally, Olympus was not only involved in the camera business, it was also a pioneer in the medical industry. The company produced Japan's first microscope, followed by the development of the world's first endoscope. Olympus products offer technology unparalleled in the advancement of medicine. As a global corporation Olympus recognizes its social responsibility and the necessity to bring about improvements in the quality of human life and livelihood.

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.

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

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