UN Development Programme Panda Champions for Global Goals Inaugurated

Jan 10, 2017

Chengdu, January 9 --The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today honoured 17 ‘Panda Champions for the Global Goals’ at a ceremony to appoint them as advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around the world.

15 of the 17 winners attended the ceremony – ‘Accompanying You Home: Panda Hometown Welcomes UNDP Champions for the Global Goals’ – at the Chengdu Panda Base in China, which kicked off a five-day visit.

During the trip, part of their prize for winning an online contest, the Champions will meet ‘Qiqi’ and ‘Diandian’ – twin pandas who are UNDP’s first Animal Ambassadors. They will also take action to raise awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before returning home to spread the message of the Global Goals in their own countries. The 17 winners come from 14 countries.

Throughout the week, the Champions will learn more about pandas including observing panda’s behavior, practicing how to take care of pandas and how to do research on wild pandas. As the messengers of SDGs, they will also discuss development issues as well as their hopes for the future with local primary school students in Chengdu.

“I am delighted to welcome our new Panda Champions to join UNDP’s mission,” said Mila Rosenthal, UNDP’s Director of Communications. “Like so many millions around the world, they dream of a world without poverty, without inequality and without injustice; a world where our climate is safe and every single one of us has the opportunity to thrive and prosper. At UNDP, it is our mission to make this dream a reality and we’re thrilled to have the Panda Champions work with us towards this goal.”

Last January, UNDP began a global search for “Panda Champions for the Global Goals” as part of a global naming campaign for its first Animal Ambassadors. As a result of that search, in September last year, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh officially named them ‘Qiqi’ and ‘Diandian’; together these words mean: “the beginning of a journey”.

Dr. Zhang Zhihe, director of Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base, said: “It’s our great pleasure to welcome Panda Champions to Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base. One of our work priorities now is to release pandas into the wild. The depletion of their natural habitat is a reflection of the environmental challenges the planet faces today. Releasing pandas into the wild is part of the efforts to actively tackle environmental challenges and manage the ecosystem. By doing so, we continue to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in China.”

UNDP’s Panda Champions for Global Goals are: Koral Avella Troncoso of Colombia, Raquel Victoria Díaz Luna of Peru, Sergio Ivan Flores Madrid of Mexico, M'rah Mohamed Djamel Eddine Aboubakr of Algeria, Salma Zaki Nashef of Jordan, Idorenyin Okon Ekpa of Nigeria, Muhammad Usman Khan of Pakistan, Vera Kalinina of Russia, Abinav Bhattachan of the UK, Jerome Pouille of France, Dae Ho Jeong of the Republic of Korea, Mika Komatsu of Japan, See Wan Lau of Hong Kong, China, Li Zeyi and Hao Xinuo of China, and Madelyn Ruyle and Nancy Robinson Ferguson of the United States.

The pandas were born in 2015 at the Chengdu Panda Base just as the world adopted the Global Goals, which aimed at tackling the world’s most pressing challenges by 2030. They were then appointed ambassadors to help raise awareness of the goals. The Global Goals have a much wider scope than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) they replace and have been adopted by every one of the 193 UN member states. They incorporate economic and environmental sustainability, as well as people’s aspirations to live in peaceful and inclusive societies. The Goals seek to eliminate rather than reduce poverty, and set demanding targets, particularly on health, education and gender equality.

Demographic changes, overconsumption, and the use of technologies that damage the environment, combined with climate change, are pushing our planet to its limits, and biodiversity losses we are now witnessing are diminishing the potential for sustainable development. UNDP is responding to this challenge by supporting countries to manage their ecosystems and biodiversity – our biodiversity and ecosystems portfolio is the largest in the UN system, covering 132 countries and over 500 projects with US$1.5 billion in funding.


Contact information

Mr. Dylan Lowthian, UNDP Communications Specialist

Tel.: +1 (212) 906 5516, Email: dylan.lowthian@undp.org

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