Prominent Chinese artist joins IUCN Goodwill Ambassadors team

06 August 2012 | News story

IUCN is pleased to announce that Chinese artist and environmentalist Yuan Xikun has joined its growing team of Goodwill Ambassadors. Yuan’s new IUCN role was announced at a recent press event at his Jintai Art Museum in Beijing.

Yuan Xikun is a well-known Chinese artist, public educator and environmentalist, as well as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Patron for Arts and Environment.

“The resources in the world are limited, but the influences of the arts are unlimited,” says Julia Marton Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “We are delighted to join the efforts of Yuan Xikun to use his art to inspire world leaders and civil society to value and conserve nature.”

Yuan was born in Yunnan Province, recognized in China and worldwide as an area rich in nature and culture. His grandparents were famous for their philanthropic efforts around Buddhism and his father was an artist well-known for his paintings of peacocks and flowers. He grew up in a family that loved nature and the arts, which influenced him from a very early age. He has worked for the Yunnan Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and has joined field surveys and drawn animals for an animal atlas and China’s Encyclopaedia. Yuan has published more artwork in China on the technique of drawing animals than any other person.

“The earth is borrowed from future generations – not the heritage from our ancestors,” says Yuan. “We have to protect nature to allow current and future generations to live with a secure source of food, clean water and fresh air. Nature is a source of the arts and the arts will help nature. Our art can inspire others to conserve nature.”

Yuan is also active in water conservation. In the mid-1990s, he served as a go-between to obtain a loan from the World Bank for waste water treatment for Dianchi Lake in Yunnan province. In 2011, he launched the Champions of Water Alliance, a non-profit initiative dedicated to promote the wise use of water resources and water conservation innovation through public education campaigns and community engagement. Its practices have been adopted by the Green Tourist Hotels alliance in China.

In recent years, Yuan’s sculptures have been presented as national gifts to different heads of countries by Chinese leaders. His miniature versions of the environmental sculptures “Urgency in the Polar Region” and “Good Fortune is Close at Hand – Tiger” were selected for “Champion of the Earth” award trophies by UNEP in 2009 and 2010.

Yuan is the first leading Chinese artist to use an artistic approach to address environmental issues and reinforce environmental messages. As our first Goodwill Ambassador from China, Yuan brings great enthusiasm to IUCN’s nature conservation efforts, and is ready to support our global conservation strategy and actions in China and other countries.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Jamie Kemsey, Protect Areas Regional Communication Network Manager IUCN, t: +66 2 6624029 ext 303, m: +66 81 934 1373 e: james.kemsey@iucn.org; Maggie Roth, IUCN Media Relations, e: maggie.roth@iucn.org