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Remarks by Nick Nuttall, UN Environment Programme Spokesperson at the Awards Ceremony for the UNEP International Children's Painting Competition

Nagoya, 24 October 2010-Welcome one and all.

What a great pleasure it is to speak here at the UNEP International Children's Painting Competition.

When you look at what these young people have achieved in terms of art-well it just gets better and better and more brilliant and accomplished with every year this competition goes by.

It is fitting that this year's winners were asked to reflect the theme of biodiversity.

Only a few subway stops away from this awards ceremony here at Nadya Park, governments from across the globe are trying to advance a decisive response to the loss of life on earth-the individual plants and animals and the forests, freshwaters and other systems they support.

Fitting too because the origins of human art are firmly linked with biodiversity.

When you look at the paintings from thousands of years ago in caves across the world, it is almost invariably depicting wildlife sometimes real and sometimes mythical.

Some of the early European cave art was of aurochs-ancient, wild living, cattle that are now extinct.

These competition paintings and the winners are sending a clear message to governments-that enough is enough: that extinction must end and that the tiger or the elephant, must not become a mythical creature to this and future generations.

Fitting too because this ceremony in happening in Japan-not just the host of COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. But a country where art runs in the very blood of its people, from the professional to the amateur.

Whether it be the ancient tradition of ceramics, to landscape paintings or more recently manga, art is at the centre of Japanese life.

You only have to look at the characters in Japanese writing-until not so long ago they were written with a brush not a pen-just look at them on these posters for the competition, even the written language is art.

In a few minutes we will applaud and recognize this year's 2010 winners. But before I finish, let me acknowledge the generous and the long term support of three partners.

The Foundation for Global Peace and the Environment, who in so many ways was the inspiration for the international children painting competition from the outset nearly 20 years ago.

Nikon, another strong supporter of the competition and UNEP's children and youth work under the theme Tunza-a Swahili word that means to treat with care and attention.

You may imagine that photography is removed from painting and art-far from it: the word photography comes from the Greek and literally means "drawing with light'.

And last but not least Bayer, again a supporter of UNEP's children and youth work alongside this competition-without chemicals, photography could not have been possible in the first place so that makes Nikon and Bayer natural allies too!

Thanks too to our other partners here in Nagoya-Aeon, Chubu Electric Power, Toho Gas and Toyota-and of course the people of Japan, the Prefecture of Aichi and the city of Nagoya who have been such great and generous hosts.

 
UNEP spokesperson Nick Nuttall