RCE Youth Biodiversity Art Challenge Awardees

In 2022, the Global RCE Service Centre at the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), in partnership with UNESCO, held the RCE Youth Biodiversity Art Challenge.

The Challenge put a spotlight on the species, habitats, and ecosystems that we need to work to protect, and asked participants to create works of art with a focus on SDG 14 (Life Below Water) or SDG 15 (Life on Land). Submissions were received across two categories (Animals & Plants and Habitats & Ecosystems), with 39 entries coming from 15 countries, from participants aged under 15 through to 35 years of age. Artworks were expressed through a range of mediums, including drawings, paintings, craft work, digital art, and photographs. Below are the awardees - congratulations to all!

Click on the 'Animals & Plants category' and 'Habitats & Ecosystems category' buttons below to see the winners within each category.


Click on each artwork below to see it displayed in full.

1. Outstanding
Elmi Imellya Yakil

For my Hand Embroidery Art (the art of decorative stitching on fabric with needle and thread), I used several stitches such as stem stitch, back stitch, long and short stitch, satin stitch and french knots to shape my favourite animal; the sea turtle. Sea turtle populations have dramatically declined in the past two centuries, making them now classified as endangered species. Fishing is a major threat to sea turtles as they become caught in fishing nets as bycatch or accidental catch. Besides, ocean pollution caused by humans is also a concern. Sea turtles often mistake plastic for jellyfish thus harming them. Hence, actions as simple as reducing our plastic consumption, practicing good fishery, participating in coastal clean-ups and saying no to turtle delicacy can protect and stop the decline of sea turtles and help these ancient mariners in the world’s oceans.

2. Acknowledged
Karina Sayo Uotani

My artwork represents two blue whales swimming in a clean deep ocean. They were painted with traditional watercolors and digital mediums. I believe that a way to protect and restore these endangered animals would be to preserve their habitats - keeping the oceans clean. I think communities can help by creating or organizing campaigns to clean beaches (since litter ends up being dragged in to the water). It’s a good way to empower and bring awareness to both children and adults. By cleaning beaches and oceans, not only do we protect the environment for blue whales but also for any marine flora and fauna.

3. Honourable Mention
Aiden Chew

When people look at my artwork, I hope they ponder about how our actions and lifestyle affects the natural world and survival of these species. Sea turtles have existed over 100 million years; however, their greatest threat comes from humans, causing nearly all species of sea turtles to be considered endangered today. Education for conservation and preventing further harm needs to start from our young people. Even a simple change of habits like using reusable bags, bottles, containers and not releasing balloons into the air, which tends to end up in the ocean mistakenly ingested by the turtles, will help in conservation efforts. We must also continue to advocate for safe practices on beaches where turtles are known to lay their eggs on, and be a voice against items made of turtle shells and meat. Healthy oceans need sea turtles and it is up to us to protect the environment and co-exist with nature.

Chihiro Arakawa


クジラは海洋に浮かぶゴミなどを誤って飲み込んでしまい、消化できず餓死して死んでまう、クジラに限らず多くの海の生き物たちが我々の出すゴミによって彼らのホームを汚してしまっているという現状を聞き、それを表現したく実際に海水浴に行った際に拾ったゴミを貼っています。  また乱獲や混獲による個体数の減少も深刻だと感じます。    



This time I drew whales, which are my favourite sea creatures, and imagining the ocean they see. Whales accidentally swallow garbage floating in the ocean, starve to death and die because they can not digest it, and not only whales but also many sea creatures have their homes polluted with the garbage we put out, and I want to express it, so I incorporated garbage that I picked up when I actually went to the sea.

In addition, I feel that the decrease in species' population due to overfishing and bycatch is also serious. It may be easier said than done, but as a countermeasure, I think that each of us can live with a consciousness of coexistence with other creatures in our daily lives, such as not producing garbage and actively selecting renewable and reusable resources as much as possible.

Both issues are caused by human beings and have a great impact on all living beings, so now is the time for each and every one of us, regardless of race, to be aware and mindful of these problems.

*English version has been translated by the Global RCE Service Centre.

Ian Chew

I am very passionate about protecting bees as they are the greatest pollinators impacting the biodiversity of our natural habitat. I wanted my artwork to represent the contrast in the environment with bees and without bees. Teaching children and the public to advocate for co-existence with bees is vital for their survival. Especially in urban places with high density of people, there must be resources allowing bees and their hives to be safe and transported away, instead of killing them. We should also gather communities to educate about the importance of bees and promote planting of flowers without pesticides to restore the ecological habitat for the bees.

Siti Nursaharah Binti Sabarudin

As we know, turtles are one of the species which are currently under threat. Nowadays, we can see a lot of stories about this animal on social media and so on which are endangered. So, to ensure we can protect and restore this species in our communities, I suggest:

  1. Maintain the cleanliness of the beach - Both governmental and non-governmental organizations regularly run awareness campaigns about "Let's save our turtles" and "Let's not use plastic on the beach." Coordinating group activities to gather rubbish from the beach and clean it up, ensuring that the turtle habitat is always preserved. This is also done to allow turtles to lay their eggs in a healthy, secure environment.
  2. Center for Turtle Conservation - This facility was built to prevent irresponsible parties from stealing and selling turtle eggs. In order to prevent the extinction of the turtle population, the turtle eggs will be cared for and handled by specialists before being returned into the sea when they are ready to hatch. This can therefore prevent the extinction of the turtle population.
  3. Safety campaign - Accountable parties need to step up security enforcement in coastal areas where turtles may land. This may lower crime rates and prevent people from killing turtles for selfish reasons.