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Art and climate change
Publication Date : 21-03-2012
A young Lao artist, Mexay Daravong, recently won first prize in the Southeast Asia section of the "Climate Change in Asia-Pacific – A People's Perspective Cartoon Contest".
During the call for submissions from November last year until February 21, many budding cartoonists from developing countries in the four regions of Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific put forward entries that highlighted their concerns over climate change.
Mexay, who is a fourth year student at the National School of Fine Arts, said he was surprised but honoured to win the prize, which he hopes will kickstart his career as an artist.
He said he became aware of the cartoon contest thanks to a teacher at his school, but noted that not many students seemed interested in submitting their works after being disappointed in previous contests.
The main objective of the cartoon contest is to bring people to the centre of climate change and human development debates. The contest encourages people from Asia-Pacific developing countries to portray issues of concern related to climate change in the region from their own perspective.
Climate change presents a major development challenge to sustainable livelihoods as it threatens to undermine international, national, and community efforts to combat poverty, and exacerbates already existing inequalities between and within countries. Some of the most vulnerable groups are islanders, slum communities, mountain dwellers, delta inhabitants, women and children.
The winners from each region were awarded US$1,000 in cash, while their work will be portrayed at an international exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, as well as presented at a variety of important workshops, seminars and other events.
Mexay said he researched ideas before sitting down to draw his cartoon as he really wanted to capture the big issues concerning climate change in Laos.
He described cartoons as a means to effectively raise awareness among people, especially children, about climate change and its impacts. In his cartoon, he wanted to point out climate change issues brought about by pollution caused by factories and traffic, resulting in unseasonal rain, natural disasters, floods and droughts.
He said he hopes his cartoon can raise awareness of the need to protect the environment so that we have fresh air and abundant natural resources for generations to come.
Other winners were Rohan Chakravarty from India in the South Asia region, Biliso Osake from Papua New Guinea in the Pacific region, and Ms Odding Wang from China in the East Asia region.
The contest was co-organised by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs and UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre.