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On 15 November 2022, the world’s population reached 8 billion people. To commemorate this historic moment, young people from Asia came together to send a message to the world through art.

With the support of UNFPA Asia-Pacific, YPEER Asia Pacific Center hosted two webinars for over 60 young people from 15 countries in Asia in October 2022. Together, the youth discussed their hopes, concerns and demands for a world of 8 billion people. A Bangkok-based artist, Supis Nui, joined the sessions to turn the conversations into art.

To commemorate the world population reaching 8 billion, Bangkok-based artist Supis Nui joined hands with young people to co-create an art piece which reflects the demands and voices of young people. Photo: UNFPA

“While many of us are concerned about the major challenges facing our generation, such as climate change and world conflicts, we are still optimistic for the future. If we utilized the advances of modern science better and harnessed the potential of the entire global population, we could achieve a future that is more sustainable, inclusive and just for everyone,” stated Bhawana Pradhan, a representative of YPEER Bhutan during the discussion.  

This contrast between concern and optimism, which dominated the views expressed by the youth, inspired Supis to create a work that would capture the different possibilities the youth could imagine for the world. “I wanted to create something that would reflect their optimism, but also serve as a warning for what could happen to our planet if we do not address the most serious problems facing us,” Supis explains.

UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem (right), speaks to representatives from YPEER Asia Pacific Center at an event held in Thailand on 15 November where the painting was unveiled. Photo: UNFPA/Varunyu Sahasakmontri

The finished 2 by 3 metre painting was unveiled during an event held in Pattaya, Thailand on 15 November 2022. UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, was present in the event alongside representatives of various diplomatic corps, development partners, civil society organizations and young people.

The piece depicts a world with two facets. On one side, we have a world plagued by hunger, war, inequality, lack of education, and suppression of freedoms. On the other, a world that embraces diversity, upholds rights and choices, protects the environment, and fosters innovation and intergenerational exchange. At the bottom, the message “Make a choice” implies the role that both individual and collective decisions play in shaping the future of a world of 8 billion.

The finished artwork depicts two starkly contrasting futures for the planet. Photo: UNFPA/Supis Nui

This sentiment was also reflected in a collective statement that the youth who participated in the discussions gave to world leaders at the ceremony: "We, the youth of the world, imagine a world that is just, equal and diverse. Realizing this world cannot just be our responsibility. The leaders of today must also listen to our voices and work with us towards a better future. We know what we want and we are determined to get there. Are you?"

Watch the video below to learn more about the making of the artwork: