The Arctic has always been a place that inspires the imagination. A great frozen ocean at the top of the world where the northern lights illuminate the sky and huge white bears swim in the icy waters is a place like no other on Earth.
Imagine deep below the ice – 4km under the North Pole – a flag is planted. Five years ago President Putin planted the Russian national flag to stake his claim on the Arctic and its resources. Next year Greenpeace are taking a new flag to the North Pole – not a flag for any one individual or nation – but a flag for the future as symbol of our joint commitment to protect the Arctic for all life on Earth.
With this flag Greenpeace will plant the names of more than two million people who have signed up to the campaign to save the Arctic. To find the right design for this special Arctic mission they are running a global youth design competition – and I am helping them to judge the entries and to choose the winner. Whoever makes the chosen image – whether it is digital, fabric, collage, painted or something else – they will know when they look north their work will be planted at the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world and it will take centre stage of a major global Greenpeace campaign.
As long as you are under 26 you can enter a design. I want to see a design that is strong enough to speak truth to power. I want it to reject and twist old ideas about what a flag should look like; I want it to say “now is the time for something completely different – a new dawn for Arctic protection.”
We all know that the Arctic is melting, this year the sea ice melted to its lowest level in recorded history. But here is a chance to do something hopeful and positive to protect this magical place.
The competition is being hosted be the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts here www.flagforthefuture.org
I look forward to leafing through your entries!
Vivienne Westwood is a fashion designer and environmental activist. She was one of the first signers of the Save the Arctic declaration. You can leave comments on her blog.