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UNDP backs Cambodian youth photo contest

Tith Chandara, co-ordinator of the UNDP-sponsored youth photo-contest about sustainable development, leads an orientation for interested youths over the weekend. Photograph: supplied

Young Cambodians passionate about photography and social issues will now have a chance to bring the two together, through a photo-story contest organised by the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication (DMC) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The contest, which will run from July 13 through to July 18, has as its main theme the issue of “sustainable development” and was created to raise awareness of the upcoming 2012 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Organisers hope to involve the Kingdom’s youth in creating social content, and to offer a space for sharing and learning.

“Photo is a powerful tool to send messages,” said project co-ordinator Tith Chandara, “because it can tell a million different stories based on the viewers’ interpretations.”

The main theme of “sustainable development” has been broken down into sub-topics such as agriculture, climate change, water resource and sanitation, tourism, sustainable forests and land use, and economic growth and development.

According to Hing Phearanich, a climate change policy analyst with the UNDP, the contest’s chosen topic is a way to reaffirm Cambodia’s commitment to sustainable development following a number of world conferences and summits.

“With the theme [sustainable development] chosen for the photo contest, youth as participants can get a closer perspective of the topic and turn their hobby of taking photos into something useful,” Said Hing Phearanich.

To be eligible for the contest, participants must be between 16 and 30 years old. Several criteria will be used to judge the photos – among them the participant’s social media savvy, since going to the final stage involves sharing photos on social networks and blogs as a way of spreading discussion of the issue.

“We don’t want youth to join the contest with only an intention of winning the prize,” Tith Chandara said. “We want them to initiate something new and share among their network.”

Ly Sokha, a student at the Royal University of Agriculture who attended a contest orientation workshop over the weekend, said she was interested in participating as a way of expressing and sharing ideas on sustainability issues, particularly around agricultural development.

“I am rather happy to be able to join the contest although I don’t know if I will win the prize,” Sokha said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chanvetey Vann at



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