RSPB NI launches Artist of the Year competition

RSPB NI, the leading wildlife conservation charity, is calling for aspiring artists to speak up for nature, highlighting the nature and climate emergency.

Whether you’re a complete beginner, budding artist or have a wealth of experience, the charity, with the support of TEDxStormont and the world-renowned contemporary visual artist, Colin Davidson, is calling on artists of all ages to use their skills to illustrate a nature rich and climate safe future they want to see for Northern Ireland, as part of its Revive Our World campaign.

Building on the idea of activist art, a term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ to address political or social issues, the competition aims to give a platform to a range of voices showing those in power why they should address the nature and climate emergency before it’s too late.

The winners will not only be crowned Artist of the Year but the artwork will be centre stage at TEDxStormont Countdown in November to coincide with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

The world-renowned contemporary portrait artist, Colin Davidson, has joined RSPB NI and TEDxStormont calling on artists of all ages to use their skills to illustrate a nature rich and climate safe future they want to see for Northern Ireland, as part of the charity’s Revive Our World campaign. Credit: Chaz Oldham.

Colin Davidson, who is one of the judges for the competition, said, “Art can capture and communicate a uniquely personal experience. Portraying the spirit and emotion of a subject is what drives me in my work. Art can offer the viewer a door into another way of looking at our world, and that’s why I’m looking forward to seeing the entries for this year’s competition, to see what excites people about the future of Northern Ireland.”

Sara McCracken, RSPB NI’s Head of Fundraising and Communications commented, “Throughout history, some of the biggest changes have been brought about by a small group of passionate people, from civil rights to votes for women, including the start of the RSPB itself. Over the years, artists have explored and documented history and politics to huge effect, the nature and climate emergency is the defining issue of our time, this is your chance to have your say and ‘canvas’ for nature.”

RSPB NI’s Sara McCracken is photographed with her daughters Maisie and Isobel as they ‘canvas’ for nature by illustrating a nature rich and climate safe future they want to see for Northern Ireland, as part of the charity’s Revive Our World campaign. To enter to become RSPB NI’s Artist of the Year,

Curator of TEDxStormont and CDPB CEO Eva Grosman, added, “At TEDx we passionately believe in the power of ideas to inspire, change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. The Countdown initiative is the perfect opportunity for Northern Ireland’s climate change experts and environmental leaders to discuss ideas for change. The nature and climate emergency effects everyone, and through this competition we want to shine a spotlight on the voices of the public who want to see a change in how we treat our natural world.”

There are no restrictions on the type of artwork, it can be anything from photography and painting to ceramics or even crochet. The competition is split into four categories Adults (18+), under 8s, 8-11, and 12-17.

Please email a photo of your artwork to with the heading ‘Canvasing for Nature Competition’, and tell us your entry details (name, age, contact telephone number) and category by 20th July 2021.

The artworks will be judged by Colin Davidson supported by a panel made up of representatives by RSPB NI and TEDxStormont.

RSPB NI works to protect precious species and habitats across Northern Ireland and is campaigning for targets in law to save nature through its Revive Our World campaign. The charity has been operating in Northern Ireland for over 50 years to inspire a world richer in nature. The charity has more than 10,000 members, around 60 employees, 300 volunteers and 10 reserves. For more information on the competition, visit


CDPB Annual Report 2020 – 2021

This past year has brought great challenges for many as together we have faced the impact of a global pandemic. Despite this, CDPB has continued to deliver a programme of activities that bring people together, even if it has often been by virtual means. Our commitment to peace building and the strengthening of democracy remains undiminished. 

This annual report provides an insight into our ongoing work, often alongside excellent partners such as Bryan Patten and the Washington Ireland Program, with a focus on empowering the next generation as they take on the baton of peace and step forward to provide the leadership of the future. One of our successful joint initiatives in the past year has been our engagement with Yale University in delivering the ‘Democracy, Identity and Civil Society’ Program and we hope to undertake further such projects in the year ahead.

Our sincere appreciation also goes to our funders, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish American Partnership. They share our desire to foster and promote reconciliation and join in our commitment to investing in our young people.  Without the support of people like Aidan Browne and Mary Sugrue we would not have been in a position to deliver so much in these difficult times.

I also wish to place on record our great admiration for the solid leadership provided by our CEO Eva Grosman as she has directed the work of our project teams and helped mentor our fantastic interns and also our appreciation to the members of our Corporate and Advisory Boards.  So many people give freely of their time to advise and support the work of CDPB and without them, our achievements would not have been possible.

Looking ahead, our Board has exciting plans for the development of CDPB.  We are currently in the process of finalising our charitable status and have plans to develop a new ‘Fellowship’ programme and an online platform as well as establishing new corporate partnerships that will help make us even more effective in delivering our various projects.

As our peoples begin to emerge from the pandemic and look forward to better times, maybe we have a slightly different perspective on life and are more appreciative of things we once took for granted. Perhaps this offers an even greater opportunity to promote and strengthen the values associated with democracy and peace building and to be agents for change in a way that is truly transformative of how we live and work together.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

TEDxStormont COUNTDOWN returns to find solutions and answers to the Climate Emergency

TEDxStormont Countdown is set to return this autumn as a part of TED’s global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action.

TEDxStormont Countdown is due to take place in November 2021 to coincide with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The COP26 summit aims to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In the run up to the Countdown event, TEDxStormont will host a series of online and in-person initiatives and campaigns to encourage conversations about climate change across Northern Ireland with a focus on five core themes – energy, nature, food, materials, and transport.

In the first session, TEDxStormont is to host Shaping Our Electricity Future: Have Your Say which will see passionate climate activists take part in an online event focused on reimagining the electricity grid so that it can deliver a clean electricity future. Experts from SONI, the company which runs Northern Ireland’s electricity grid, will put their plans to the group for insights and challenge.

Taking place on 25 May, the virtual session, hosted by an actress and comedian Nuala McKeever will be an opportunity for attendees to contribute to the consultation and play their part in creating a grid which delivers world-leading levels of clean electricity.

The event will also hear from young climate campaigner Anna Kernahan, and Sara McCracken, RSPB NI’s Head of Fundraising and Communications will introduce RSPB’s Artist of the Year competition. The charity with the support of TEDxStormont will be calling for artists of all ages to use their skills to illustrate their vision of a nature rich and climate safe future for Northern Ireland. The competition aims to give a platform to these voices and encourage politicians to match their words with action.

Curator of TEDxStormont Countdown, Eva Grosman said:

“The Countdown initiative is the ideal opportunity for Northern Ireland’s climate change and environmental leaders from a range of sectors to join together to discuss and action the key solutions that will prevent further damage to our environment.

“TEDxStormont Countdown’s aim is to highlight, through open discussion, the important issues such as food, nature, energy, materials, and transport, that are having major impacts on our environment.

“TEDxStormont Countdown live is set to return in November as part of the TED Countdown which will see global leaders of climate action join together to highlight the major challenges and solutions to the core climate issues. In the run up to the COP26 in Glasgow,

TED Countdown will raise even more awareness of the climate crisis and will provoke our leaders in Government and beyond to think ahead to what must be done to save the planet for good.”

Natasha Sayee, Head of External Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at SONI said:

“Shaping Our Electricity Future is SONI’s direct response to the climate crisis and is fundamental to Northern Ireland’s ambitions of reaching at least 70% electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The move to clean electricity will affect everyone in Northern Ireland, and we want to engage with the public to hear their opinions on how best to move forward ensuring we meet the targets and respond to the Climate Crisis.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with TEDxStormont Countdown once again to highlight solutions and big ideas to the changing way we work in order to protect the planet. We want Northern Ireland’s electricity system to enable and support the climate emergency response. We are stepping up to do this and through our partnership with TEDxStormont we urge the public to join and help us inform how we can all move forward in a greener, cleaner society.”

Sara McCracken, Head of Fundraising and Communications at RSPB NI said:

“Northern Ireland is waking up to the nature and climate emergency and we are pleased to see important legislation such as the Climate Change Bill moving through the Assembly, as well as our participation in the upcoming COP26 event.

“TEDxStormont Countdown is a platform for Northern Ireland’s leading environmentalists and activists share ideas and thoughts on what needs to be done to protect the planet. Last year’s TEDx Countdown saw vibrant discussions and thought-provoking proposals exchanged on how to be kinder to our planet, and what actions are required in the global effort to affect this needed change.”

“We look forward to this year’s TEDx Countdown, especially the unveiling of the RSPB NI Artist of the Year, which will see incredible works of art that capture a future vision of nature and why it must be preserved.”