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Vientiane, Lao PDR - The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, will announce the winners of the essay competition "The World at 7 Billion: Opportunities, Challenges and Implications for Lao Development" in a ceremony to be held at the Lao Journalists Association on December 20th from 9:00 to 10:00 am.

The essay contest made part of the campaign 7 Billion Actions Campaign, a global initiative led by UNFPA to highlight the critical role population changes play in shaping our world's future. In Lao PDR, MPI and UNFPA organized a variety of activities from May to December 2011 including the celebration of the World Population Day in July, training for journalists on population issues, an academic seminar and a workshop about population and development in Champasack and a knowledge contest at the National University of Laos.

The competition was organised with the aim to raise awareness about the implications of global population growth for Lao PDR and to open the opportunity for Lao youth -which are accounting for 50% of the population- to express their voices and enhance their capacities.

52 students from Vientiane and some other provinces participated in the contest. All submissions were blind reviewed by a group of experts from MPI, UNFPA and the National University of Laos who chose 3 winners from 2 categories, as follows: upper-secondary level: 1st prize: Ms. Chintana Sengsoulin, 2nd prize: Ms. Viriya Vilavongsa and 3rd prize: Mr. Khamchanh Thamavong; and university and college level: 1st prize: Mr. Thongsouk Somphouviseth, 2nd prize: Mr. Doungta Manivanh and 3rd prize: Mr. Tom Xaysongkham.

The contest addressed to Lao upper secondary and university or college students will award the winning essays with 2.000.000 LAK, 1.500.000 LAK and 1.000.000 LAK for first, second and third place, respectively.

Contact information:
Dr. Arounyadeth Rasphone, 
UN System Division, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Investment, 
Tel (+856-21) 218274 Email: 
Mr. Diego De La Rosa, UNFPA Tel: (+856-21) 315547, mobile: (+856) 020 59936509