UN agency launches environmental photo contest in Africa

19 June 2009 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Olympus Corporation and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation, launched an environmental photo contest today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, inviting works that profile ordinary people working to reduce the effects of climate change.

The contest, “Picture This: Caring for the Earth,” is open to photographers residing in Africa and is accepting single photos or photo essays that highlight stories that show the people of the continent as stewards of their natural environment, UNDP said in a news release. Special attention will be given to photos that illustrate the role of women in protecting the environment.

The contest is inspired by the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, which will witness a gathering of 15,000 officials from 200 countries.

“The developing world stands to lose the most from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Local communities also see what is happening to the natural resources and environment on which they depend for their health, livelihoods and survival,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said at the contest launch.

Protecting the environment and working to mitigate the effects of climate change lie at the heart of the mandate of the UNDP, which says that effects of climate change are already evident in Africa in the increasing occurrence of drought and desertification, and in the rise in crop failures and health risks associated with temperature changes.

Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai is one of five judges who will choose the winning photos. The other four judges are professional photojournalists, including Peter Magubane, one of South Africa’s most internationally-acclaimed photographers. The deadline for entries, in both the amateur and professional categories, is 31 August 2009.

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 news 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.

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