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12-year-old girl from the United Kingdom wins international children’s painting competition / Award ceremony in Norway with Crown Prince Haakon on World Environment Day / Joint project between Bayer and the United Nations Environment Programme

Tromsø – A man desperately tries to hold onto an umbrella that a storm is threatening to carry away. On the inside-out surface of the umbrella, we can see the Earth – the message is that Mother Earth no longer shelters humanity, but rather is turning away from us. With this image, 12-year-old Charlotte Sullivan from the United Kingdom won this year’s “International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment” on the theme of “climate change.” This competition is organized jointly each year by Bayer AG and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which honored Charlotte and the other winners at an award ceremony held in conjunction with the World Environment Day festivities in Tromsø, Norway. Also taking part in the ceremony was Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon.

“My wish is that everyone would take global warming seriously. I would like to express by my painting the need for everyone to act as climate change is happening now,” said the winner. The drawing by 12-year-old Ekaterina Nishchuk from Russia, one of the two second-place finishers, strikingly illustrates how closely humor and bitter reality lie together: a polar bear stands on a melting ice floe and takes off the fur coat, revealing a bikini underneath… The drawing by 13-year-old Petkova Polina Zdravkova from Bulgaria, who took the other second-place honor, shows the entire globe melting – and crying at the same time – while humanity sends out an “SOS” plea. ”Climate change is underway and will impact every corner and community of the planet. This generation is witnessing the early stirrings of extreme weather events, melting ice and other climatic manifestations,“ said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. „But it is the children who will witness in their lifetimes the largest impacts if the world does not move to address this challenge".

Michael Schade, Head of Corporate Policy and Media Relations at Bayer AG, summarized the pictures’ statements: “By their colorful paintings the children are sending us clear messages expressing their fears and hopes. Most of their themes are impressingly appealing to the grownups with a concrete request: take care of this planet, because it is the only one we have!”

Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon as host of the event joined with UNEP Executive Director Steiner and Bayer representative Schade in presenting the global winners and those from the six regions – North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, West Asia and Asia-Pacific – with certificates and monetary and material awards at a special ceremony. This year’s European winner was 12-year-old Maria Mykolaivna Oliynyk from Ukraine. All of the winners were invited to attend the award ceremony in Norway together with a chaperone, and for many it was the first major trip outside their own countries.

13,450 children from 104 countries submitted pictures this year – the highest participation rate ever for this competition, which has been organized 16 times since 1990. “We are very happy about the tremendous interest on the part of children around the world in this event, which is one of the central projects of the successful partnership between Bayer and UNEP and which has become an integral part of World Environment Day,” said Schade.

In March, an international jury comprised of representatives from Bayer and UNEP and experts in youth environmental education at Bayer’s Leverkusen headquarters selected this year’s global winners as well as approximately 140 other pictures to be honored. The best pictures were presented to the public for the first time in Tromsø and Oslo in conjunction with World Environment Day. The pictures will then be displayed at international exhibitions to be held at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, among other sites. Bayer AG will present the pictures at its sites in Germany.

More than 180,000 children have taken part in this environmental painting competition since 1990. Since 2004 it has been part of an environmental program that UNEP and its private-sector partner Bayer jointly implement together with various projects around the globe. The next highlight of this program will be the Tunza International Youth Conference in Leverkusen from August 26 through 30, 2007 with 165 young environmentalists coming from over 100 countries.


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