UN reveals five winners of its ‘Citizen Ambassador’ video contest

16 October 2009

“Every day I want you to wake up and know that you work for 6.7 billion real people, one person at a time. People with children, and dreams, and stories.”

With this moving message to world leaders, narrated over portraits she shot in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Emily Troutman submitted a winning video to the United Nations’ “Citizen Ambassadors” contest.

Launched on 23 September to coincide with the start of the General Debate segment of the General Assembly, the campaign invited world citizens – youth in particular – to voice their opinions to heads of State and government by creating a video response to the question: “If you had the opportunity to speak to world leaders, what would you say?”

The winners of the innovative outreach campaign were announced today, with honours awarded to the five best entries.

Chosen from more than 400 videos, a shortlist of 20 finalists were viewed by a panel of United Nations staff members representing the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

“Seeing this level of enthusiasm all over the world was a surprise,” said Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division at the DPI, who addressed a news conference alongside Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka.

The five winners were selected this week in a judging session which was videotaped and posted on the United Nations’ YouTube channel.

The winners, Ms. Troutman of the United States, Maricarmen Ortega of Mexico, Kirsty Matthews of Canada, Breno Coelho of Brazil, and Jeremy Walker of Canada, have been designated as “Citizen Ambassadors” for the UN.

They have also been invited to visit the UN Headquarters in New York next week, where they will meet high-ranking officials, take a special tour of the complex, and enjoy VIP seating at the UN Day concert held in the General Assembly Hall on 23 October.

Responding to her achievement, Ms. Matthews said: “Equality, sustainability and justice; these are the things that matter. I made this video to remind world leaders of that.”

Ms. Troutman said she was compelled to submit a video because “real change is only created by hope and empathy, by strength and commitment [and] by listening to others.”

The campaign is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that seek to increase awareness of the work of the UN and to engage a new generation of world citizens through enhanced use of the Internet and online social networking.

This week also marks the launch of DPI’s “UN4U” programme, during which UN officials will visit public high schools throughout New York City to raise awareness about the Organization’s work and commemorate UN Day.

The programme will be carried out in other countries as well, with a series of activities that include an outreach event involving 500 students in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, a photo exhibition in Bogota, Colombia, and a series of lectures aimed at more than 800 students in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

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