All eyes are on Glasgow this week as the city is host to this year's highly anticipated United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. Just before the proceedings commenced, the winners of a competition called #CreateCOP26 (which raises awareness on climate change through the involvement of young artists) were announced.

Supported by Art Partner and UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean, the initiative saw hundreds of submissions from 54 countries across six continents. A panel of judges that includes photographer Tyler Mitchell and Vogue Italia's Ferdinando Verderi selected the 9 winners, below.

“I Am Cenote” –Camila Jaber, 25, Mexico (1st Place)

Freediving national record holder for Mexico and student Camila Jaber has taken inspiration and experience from her time as a water athlete to create art that raises awareness about the ocean's problems, as well as trouble being faced by freshwater ecosystems. The goal of her work was to reduce the impact of the impending water crisis, particularly calling on the tourism industry to acknowledge their destructive contributions to this crisis and climate change as a whole.

“Pure Water Raincoat” –Hikima Mahamuda, 30, Ghana (2nd Place)

In Ghana, water is most consumed in packaged water-filled bags and has become 'a major cause of plastic pollution' for the country. When they are burned, they contribute even more negatively to the climate as Mahamuda acknowledges we are currently experiencing. As a designer with sustainability in mind, she was inspired to turn these plastics into raincoats in order to raise further awareness around climate change in West Africa and provide an opportunity for the impact and damage to be reduced.

“Should We Start Fixing Now?” –Breech Asher Harani, 29, Philippines (2nd Place)

This experimental film by filmmaker Breech Asher Harani looks at the climate-induced fatal typhoons in the Philippines. Shedding light on human voices as well as captivating visuals to truly highlight the extent to the stories being told, Harani fully immerses his audience in the unique daily experience of those living firsthand with the impacts of climate change - those who are already enduring the worst. Though the film's titling poses a question, it stands as a confrontation that more must be done - immediately - regarding the dynamic and efforts put into climate change.

“First At Home, Then The World” –Samuel Antonio Pineda Manzano, 24, Mexico (3rd Place)

24-year-old Samy aims to incentivise his audience to partake in more environmentally-conscious habits and actions by experimenting with 'performative gestures' and different art mediums, in this case a short film, to reflect the toxic environmental actions undertaken worldwide. The goal of his work is to prevent people from naively engaging in things that escalate the deterioration of one's natural and ecological environment.

“Calamities- Plastic & Fauna” –Jessica Angela O’Neill, 22, UK (3rd Place)

O'Neill's project is a response to the severity of the problem with micro plastics that can now be found in human organs also. The UK lockdown gave the 22-year-old artist the opportunity to take advantage of the access to materials and create a multi-medium body of work to illustrate how emotionally charged the relationship between 'manmade material, sea fauna and humans' is.

“Hope in the Rain” –Mehrdad Vahed Yousefabad, 30, Iran (3rd Place)

Urmia Lake is the sixth-largest saltwater lake in the world but twenty years of consistent drought as a result of global warming have endangered rivers and lakes across Iran. As well as human factors, the lack of water resources management are contributing to lack dryness. Vahed's submission aims to highlight all of these factors in hopes of raising awareness to the larger picture at hand.

“Bleached” –Charlotte Greenwood, 23, UK (3rd Place)

This short film looks closely at the global issue of underwater coral and anemone bleaching. During visits to Bristol Zoo Aquarium in the UK and L'Aquarium de Barcelona in Spain, Greenwood captured photographs in a bleach-filled container, that she then turned into coated prints. In doing so, she exemplifies the damaging impacts of the chemical simply on the colour of the prints to reflect the dangerous increases in ocean temperatures and the stripping of coral colours as a result of the destructive process.

“Disposable Biomaterial” –Mingsheng Ni, 24, China (3rd Place)

This project is about the possibility of using biological materials to replace disposable products and participate in the rapid sustainable circular economy, creating bio-fabrics where the recycling rate of products matches the recycling rate of social discard. In this project, Ni makes encourages the audience to think of 'waste' as a material, rather than waste.

“From the Ground Up” –Oscar Crabb, 23, UK (3rd Place)

Working primarily in textiles and print making, Oscar Crabb uses "antique materials and ancient dye techniques" to produce vibrant pieces backed by contemporary and historical research which explores different (sometimes radical) approaches to the climate crisis from a scientific and sociological lens. Through Crabb's creative explorations, he aims to maximise his sustainable practices by recycling and reusing all of the materials used.

Photos courtesy of COP26

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