UNDP salutes anti-poverty photographers

01 Sep 2010

Winners of this year's Picture This: We can end poverty photo contest are announced

A photograph of female and male students in Pakistan working together on a circuit board in their engineering class was one of three winning photographs of a global anti-poverty photo contest.

The other two winners, judged by UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and internationally-acclaimed actor Antonio Banderas and four photo journalists, feature a boy on his way to school in India and fishermen in Viet Nam bringing in the day’s catch.

“By showing what people around the world are doing to eradicate extreme poverty in their communities, we see that the Millennium Development Goals are not just abstract targets, but are about making a tangible difference in people’s lives,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “It is our hope that through showcasing these real and positive actions, more people will be motivated to contribute to this effort.”

The second annual “Picture This: We Can End Poverty” 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 people in both developing and developed countries contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in their local communities.

The MDGs are eight internationally-agreed targets, which aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation by 2015. The contest was designed to motivate people and governments to redouble their efforts in the fight against extreme poverty, in advance of the world leaders’ summit to review MDG progress, to take place 20-22 September in New York.

“It is inspiring to see ordinary people doing something positive to achieve these Goals as they go about their daily lives – children and adults studying in complex environments, local organizations advocating for women’s rights, powerful campaigns to improve people’s health,” said Antonio Banderas. “It is my hope that these actions develop into a wave that will influence the heads of state Summit next week in New York, to give us a meaningful outcome.”

Nearly 1400 contestants submitted more than 3,000 photos in both the professional and amateur categories, and three top prizes were awarded in each of these categories. Additionally, the public voted online for a People’s Choice award.

The first prize winners are Prakash Hatvalne, an Indian photojournalist, in the professional category; Tran Vinh Nghia, a videographer from Viet Nam, in the amateur category; and Agha Rizwan Ali from Pakistan in the People’s Choice category. Tomorrow, Miss Clark will present the winners with their awards, which include digital cameras and lenses from Olympus Corporation and a certificate of acknowledgement from UNDP.

The second and third place winners in both categories are from Canada, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovakia, and will all receive digital cameras from Olympus. All the winning photographs will be displayed on the sponsors’ websites and shown in exhibitions in Japan and the United States and other countries around the world. Other entries were received from Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Sudan, the United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and several other developed and developing countries.

“The aspiration of the MDGs to halve poverty is a challenging initiative and a commitment that was made by the international community in 2000,” said Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, President of Olympus. “As a company operating globally and a UN Global Compact member, we support the MDGs as they aim to improve people’s lives and protect the environment. We are honoured that this photo contest provides a forum to show the positive work of people around the world.”

Mr. Banderas’ fellow jurors included four professional photojournalists – National Geographic photographer and author, Alexandra Avakian, Olympus Visionary photographer John Isaac, UN Chief of Photo, Mark Garten and AFP New York Bureau Chief, Paola Messana.

“The AFP Foundation is very happy to partner with UNDP and Olympus for the second year running in a photo contest,” said Robert Holloway, Director of the AFP Foundation. “The large number of entrants shows the importance which people around the world attach to achieving the MDGs. The Foundation itself is committed to this goal, believing as we do, that free, independent and responsible media can help people around the world make fully informed decisions about their lives and thus combating poverty and promoting human rights.” UNDP is working with governments and partners on MDG-based national development strategies and policies, including ways to speed up progress on MDG achievement. UNDP also advocates for the MDGs to build awareness and to track MDG progress at the country level.