UNDP names Panda Champions for Global Goals

Jan 6, 2017

Champions from across the world travelling to China to meet UNDP’s first Animal Ambassadors: Two adorable panda cubs called Qiqi and Diandian.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today announces the winners of a global search for world citizens to step up for change and become Panda Champions for Global Goals. Dozens will soon travel to China to meet UNDP’s first Animal Ambassadors: a pair of panda cubs at Chengdu’s famed Panda Base.

The 17 winners – who come from 15 different countries – were chosen from hundreds of people who submitted videos about their favourite of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These Global Goals are a bold agenda aimed at eradicating poverty and tackling the world’s most pressing challenges by 2030. The 17 winning videos were judged to be the most original, creative and stylish and can be watched here.

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

Winners will be travelling from around the world to Chengdu for an official ceremony on Monday to appoint them to their new role and to meet the panda cubs, which more than 5,000 people from 116 different nations entered a competition last year to name. In September, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and award-winning actor Michelle Yeoh officially named them Qiqi and Diandian; together these words mean: “the beginning of a journey”.

“I am delighted to welcome our new Panda Champions to join UNDP’s mission,” said Mila Rosenthal, UNDP’s Director of Communications. “Each and every one of them created a video with charm and flair. And by submitting a video, they actually did so much more than that: they also committed their voices and creativity to the Global Goals, an ambitious and inspiring plan to transform the world for the better by 2030.”

“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.”

The pandas were born in 2015 at the Chengdu Panda Base just as the world adopted the Global Goals, and were 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.

The competition was held in association with dozens of zoos around the world, many of which have their own pandas, including Adelaide Zoo in Australia, Toronto Zoo in Canada, ZooParc de Beauval in France, Adventure World and Ueno Zoo in Japan, Edinburgh Zoo in the UK, and Zoo Atlanta in the US.

For high-resolution photos pandas in Chengdu, please click here: bit.ly/undppandas. Please credit photos ‘UNDP/Razvan Ciuca’. To arrange for broadcast footage of Monday’s ceremony and of the new champions meeting the pandas, please contact Andrew.hein@undp.org.

Contact information

Adam Cathro, UNDP, +1 212 906 5326 or +1 917 915 9725, adam.cathro@undp.org.