UNDP Launches Global Naming Campaign for Its First Animal Ambassadors for the SDGs

Jan 17, 2016

Chengdu, January 17 - Today in Chengdu the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China designated its two pandas to officially become the first-ever Animal Ambassadors and also began a global search for 'UNDP Panda Envoys' as part of the global naming campaign for the pandas. The ceremony and launch event were hosted by the Chengdu Panda Base.

The campaign includes over 20 zoos from 13 countries that will assist in advocating the message of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and encourage worldwide participants to submit a video about what SDG is most important to them to the newly launched campaign website (www.sdgpanda.org). Participants can visit the giant pandas in the participating zoos and upload their video alongside a name suggestion for UNDP’s first Animal Goodwill Ambassadors - twin cubs of Qing He Giant Panda, bestowed to UNDP by the Chengdu Panda Base last year. On May 22nd 17 winning entrants will be selected to become UNDP Panda Envoys and visit the Chengdu Panda base.

The event brought together more than 30 government leaders, including the Head of Forestry Department of Sichuan, representatives from conservation organizations and celebrities to witness the designation ceremony for the Animal Goodwill Ambassadors and launch of the global naming campaign website for the search for UNDP Panda Envoy.

During her speech Agi Veres, Country Director of UNDP China highlighted the important message Pandas convey, “the Pandas are strong unofficial ambassadors for the environment, beloved globally, with the ability to bring international media attention to such issues, UNDP China has decided to designate our panda twins to become UNDP’s first ever Animal Goodwill Ambassadors. I am confident the panda twins will be compelling advocates in focusing attention on issues related to the SDGs. I also believe they will help UNDP send a powerful message that will reach the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.”

The winners will have the opportunity to ‘Tour the Hometown of the Giant Panda’ in Chengdu and learn more about Panda Conservation. Furthermore the winners will contribute towards SDG 1- ‘No Poverty’ through UNDP Zero Poverty: Public Welfare Activities. This will include visiting primary and middle schools in impoverished areas in Sichuan and meeting local students to learn more about poverty alleviation projects in China.

Yuan Shanshan, renowned Chinese actress attended the event to help promote the campaign as ‘UNDP Panda Celebrity Advocate’.  As a longstanding supporter of Panda conservation and the UN, Yuan Shanshan hopes to engage individuals worldwide with the SDGs: “As UNDP celebrity advocate, I look forward to bringing more attention to panda conservation.”

UNDP China is committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, which closely aligns with China’s focus on sustainable development and innovative growth. Furthermore, President Xi Jinping has announced that green development is crucial to the success of China’s future agenda. The event highlighted the necessity of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect life on land and promote the use of affordable and clean energy in order to conserve one of the world’s most endangered wild animals.

Zhang Zhihe, the director of Chengdu Research Base emphasized the important relationship between the Panda Base and UNDP China and the significance of promoting the SDGs, “the Chengdu Panda Base are honored to work together with UNDP China to engage individual’s world-wide about the importance of the SDGs and find names for the UNDP Animal Goodwill Ambassadors. The Panda Base has been working tirelessly to support Panda conservation across China and now hopes to further support the UN in their mandate to promote sustainable development.”

The Chengdu Panda base has made remarkable achievements in Panda conservation across China. In the 1980's the Base had only 6 sick, starving giant pandas. Since then, with support from the Chinese government and the care of the Panda Base staff, 214 cubs have been bred with 143 births and the Base now holds the world largest artificially bred population of captive giant pandas (152 giant pandas).

In April 2016, the SDG Panda website will also launch the ‘music without boundaries initiative’. Citizens from around the world are invited to create a song for the giant pandas in order to promote panda conservation and communicate sustainability through music, an art form without boundaries. The Chinese musician, Huang Xiaomao, will lead this activity and compose a theme song for pandas using collected lyrics from participants worldwide. Participants shall submit their lyrics for Songs for Giant Panda on the website, and the lyrics with the top 5 most “likes” will be selected and incorporated into the final song composed by Huang Xiaomao.

To find out which zoos are participating in the campaign and to upload your SDG selfie video please visit: www.sdgpanda.org


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