Visual arts competition on sustainable development in the Arab region - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
8 January-29 February 2020

Visual arts competition on sustainable development in the Arab region

Visual arts competition on sustainable development  in the Arab region
  • Beirut, Lebanon
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is organizing a visual arts competition on sustainable development in the Arab region, to encourage artists and photographers from the region to portray the reality of sustainable development in Arab countries through photographs, videos or infographics/animation. ESCWA is organizing the competition in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut.

Participants are expected to reflect in their artwork how they envision people’s contributions to achieving sustainable development, and how those actions manifest in practice given the specificities of the Arab region. The materials should tell a story that can be presented in a journalistic or abstract manner, and that mirrors participants’ ideas and feelings.
The winners will be announced at the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development, to be held in spring 2020. The rich collection of photographs, videos and graphics will constitute a unique inventory, which will be available to users and visitors of the Arab Portal on the Sustainable Development Goals that ESCWA is currently establishing and that will be launched at the Forum.

The following are some questions that participants can contemplate when preparing their work:
  • What are the challenges facing sustainable development in the region, and what can be done to tackle them?
  • What can individuals do to promote and achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? (What can you do to eradicate poverty? What can you do to eradicate hunger?
    What is needed to ensure the health of all people?)
  • How do the actions of an individual or group affect the 2030 Agenda in the Arab region as a whole?
  • How will implementing one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) affect concepts, behaviours and consumption patterns? What approaches have the peoples of the Arab region adopted to deal with sustainable development issues?
  • What can people do to support the changes called for in the 2030 Agenda?
  • What opportunities does the region have to achieve one or more of the SDGs?
Participants are requested to choose one or more of the 17 SDGs as themes for their photographs (maximum of 10 photos), videos and infographics/animation (maximum of two), which express their vision of the SDGs. For more information on the SDGs, please see the references mentioned below.

The following are the titles of the 17 SDGs:

Professional and amateur photographers and artists with different backgrounds and levels of experience are invited to upload 10 photographs, one or two short videos, or one or two infographics/animation. Winners will be awarded certificates of appreciation from ESCWA in its capacity as the regional arm of the United Nations in the Arab region, and their attributed work will be used in ESCWA publications. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development, which will be attended by over 400 people from the region and beyond, including senior officials from member States, United Nations organizations and non-governmental organizations involved in sustainable development.
By participating in this competition, participants will give ESCWA a waiver, license and right to use the materials from the competition. Accordingly, ESCWA should be provided with participants’ names, photographs, CVs and other personal information. In addition, ESCWA will have the right to use the materials (photographs and videos) and related information in all media and advertisements for promoting the competition. Participants will retain the intellectual property rights of the materials.
All materials in the competition will be uploaded to the Arab Portal on the Sustainable Development Goals to make them available to portal users. The unauthorized use of materials that are not subject to United Nations rules and regulations and/or are in violation of human rights laws is strictly prohibited. Such violations will lead to appropriate legal action.

Deadline for submitting materials: Saturday, 29 February 2020.

Nationality of participants: Participants are required to be of Arab nationality.

Information to be submitted with the materials: Each photograph or video must be accompanied by a commentary containing:
  • A description of the situation depicted in the photograph or video and/or of the person appearing therein (if any), and an indication of the relevant SDGs;
  • The name of the city, region, state and country where the photograph or video was taken;
  • The date the photograph was taken or the video was made.
  • Photographs must be saved in jpeg format and must be between 2,000 and 6,000 pixels;
  • Photograph size should not exceed 5000 KB (5MB);
  • Subscribers should keep HD and RAW files of their submissions, if possible. If they are selected for the first prize, participants will be required to send their photographs in high resolution for printing and display and, if possible, the original image (RAW) to check whether the edits meet the competition’s requirements.
Short video
  • Submitted videos must be saved as MP4 (1280x720 px), with a duration of 30 to 90 seconds only;
  • The contents of the video should comprise clips, music and/or voice recordings, and video makers should ensure that they have copyrights.
  • Animations must be saved as MP4 (1280x720 px), with a duration of 30 to 90 seconds only;
  • Participants must keep RAW files of their work;
  • Animations must comprise drawings, music and/or voice recordings prepared by participants, or participants must ensure that they have copyrights.
Editing photographs or video
The content of photographs or videos should not be altered by adding, rearranging, reversing, distorting, or removing people and/or objects from frames. The following are two exceptions to this, which must be mentioned in the application:
  • Cropping that removes extraneous details;
  • Dust that appears in the image due to faulty lenses or scanners.
Although minimal digital manipulation is allowed, please keep in mind that this competition is not a Photoshop contest. All photographs must accurately represent the SDGs. Images that appear to have been overly doctored may be excluded, at the discretion of the judges.

Judging the competition
The judges will award prizes for the best photographs in the following categories: poverty, agriculture, the food industry (waste and poverty), health, education and culture, economics, financing, landscapes, urban slums, the natural world and wildlife (water, energy, etc.), women, young people, disability, peace, justice, transport, and all other SDG issues and targets.
ESCWA reserves the right to verify the validity and origin of any request and/or participant (including participants’ identity and address), and to exclude participants who submit applications that do not conform to the official rules or do not follow the application process. The failure of ESCWA to implement any of its rights at any stage does not constitute a waiver of these rights.

Panel of judges
  • ESCWA;
  • United Nations Information Centre in Beirut;
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida);
  • American University of Beirut (AUB).
Awards (subject to change depending on the contents and number of participants)
  • The winners (s) will be invited to attend the 2020 Arab Forum on Sustainable Development, to be organized by ESCWA and held in spring 2020;
  • The best photographs/videos/animations will be displayed at the 2020 Arab Forum on Sustainable Development 2020;
  • ESCWA will present the award.
To participate in the competition, please upload materials (images or videos) to Dropbox, Google Drive, WeTransfer or another platform, then register for the competition by submitting personal information (name, age, nationality, place of residence, passport photograph, passport copy, mobile number, email and CV) with a link to the material, and send to the following email address:

Dates and deadlines
Given the unique nature and scope of this competition, ESCWA reserves the right, in addition to the other rights it reserves, to amend the dates of this competition, given that ESCWA cannot accurately predict the number of participants in advance.

All issues and questions related to setting, editing, interpreting and implementing the official rules or the rights and obligations of participants in the competition must comply with the laws of the United Nations and the laws of ESCWA member States.

arrow-up icon