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Bonn, 22 April 2015-- To coincide with Earth Day on 22 April, the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn today opened an exhibition of art works that once graced the walls of the first ever UN Climate Change Conference 20 years ago.

The restored images by the German artist Charles Wilp, kindly given to the secretariat on permanent loan by his widow Ingrid Schmidt-Winkeler for display, relate to the dangers posed by environmental threats including deforestation, depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.

Dubbed “View from Space”, the series of lithographs depicts images of the globe wrapped in gold foil, underscoring the fragility of the planet.

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres said: “These thought-provoking art works remind us of the vision, the optimism and the dynamism that surrounded the first UN climate convention meeting two decades ago—optimism and momentum that is again alive and well as governments prepare to meet to ink a new universal climate agreement in Paris in December”.

“The artist Charles Wilp was equally optimistic about humanity’s ability to overcome major odds through international cooperation. The fact that mankind is winning the battle against depletion of the ozone layer with the assistance of the UN Montreal Protocol shows that international cooperation is our best ally for delivering on the threats but also the opportunities of global environmental challenges,” she added.


Ingrid Wilp with UNFCCC Head Christiana Figueres

The series of lithographs was first displayed at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in 1995 (COP 1) in Berlin. The conference was presided over by Angela Merkel, then Germany’s Environment Minister and today the country’s Chancellor.

In Berlin in 1995, the world’s nations decided to establish a permanent secretariat to the UNFCCC and to locate it in Bonn.


Angela Merkel at COP 1 in Berlin

For several years the images were exhibited in Haus Carstanjen, former headquarters of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, before being restored and displayed in the new secretariat building.

Charles Wilp (1933 – 2005) was a student of New York photographer Man Ray and created photography, paintings, movies and music, along with iconic works of pop art for the advertising industry.

His art works now hanging in Bonn are based on a digitalized laser scan of Planet Earth taken from the satellite Voyager 2, printed on gold-plated satellite foil and combined with Stycast, a highly robust material used in satellite construction.

The images include quotes by historic personalities, for example by Laotse (“There is only one thing you should not dare – to act against nature”) and by Mahatma Gandhi (“As the forests give us breath, we need to protect them – the trees and the air”).

Several pieces of Charles Wilp’s work flew in space in 1994 to the MIR space station, where they were stamped by cosmonauts including the German astronaut Ulf Merbold.


A Charles Wilp lithograph stamped in the MIR space station


Christiana Figueres signing a lithograph in Bonn


For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson: +49 228 815 1400 (phone), +49 152 0168 4831 (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int
John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 228 815 1404 (phone), +49 172 258 6944 (mobile) jhay(at)unfccc.int
UNFCCC Press Office: press(at)unfccc.int

About the UNFCCC

With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

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