Helen Clark: “Zoom In On Poverty” Global Photo Contest in Beijing

17 Oct 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
At the “Zoom In On Poverty” Global Photo Contest in Beijing



I am delighted to be here today to congratulate the prize winners in this inaugural Zoom In On Poverty Photo Contest.

In addition to celebrating the tremendous talents and creativity of the photographers, these awards bring to our attention one of the greatest challenges facing humankind today: that of eradicating poverty. 

Almost 1.4 billion people worldwide are living in extreme poverty.  Nearly one in every seven people suffers from chronic hunger.  Almost nine million children die each year before they reach their fifth birthday.

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Each photo displayed here today tells a story and the stories are often difficult and heartbreaking.  Consider the series of photos of women and girls lured to the sex industry, or the photo of a severely malnourished child.  These photos force us to reflect on the drive and determination of people in poor communities around the world to create a better life, and the gravity of the obstacles they often must overcome. 

This morning I addressed the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum here in Beijing, on the importance of explicitly targeting poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability.  These photos remind us that sustainable human development must always be at the centre of our thinking and actions, and that economic growth must be inclusive and give all people the opportunity to participate in the progress their countries are making.

These photos also remind us that poverty is a global problem.  Global partnerships help to tackle it, and sharing experiences from nations like China which have massively reduced extreme poverty helps others along that path.  

UNDP is proud to be working alongside China to address a number of the big development challenges of today: uneven development, poverty and inequality, and climate change and environmental degradation. As China embarks upon its Twelfth Five Year Plan and strives to eradicate the extreme poverty in the country by 2020, UNDP will be a partner on that journey.  

This exhibition is also the result of a strong partnership here in China.  I thank Xinhua for partnering with us to organize this contest and exhibition.

Through the partnership we established in April this year, UNDP and Xinhua have both committed to using their respective global platforms to raise awareness about poverty and thereby to helping improve the lives of the world’s poor.  With its vast media reach, Xinhua is a very important player in generating publicity for the cause of global poverty reduction.

I hope that this exhibition will motivate even more people to support poverty reduction efforts.  

I now personally congratulate all the winners of the Zoom in on Poverty Photo Contest, and encourage all to see and reflect on the exhibition and its messages about poverty.