Enter Global Canvas 2023

The Global Canvas 2023 theme is “Biodiversity – the complex web of life” with entries open from 8th September 2022 until 10th February 2023. Launched in 2004, Global Canvas is the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s children’s wildlife art competition. Open to groups and individuals aged 4-16 globally, previous themes have included It’s Our World, We Can Heal the World, Wild Wonders, Our Precious Planet, Into the Wild, Habitats of the World, Endangered, Healing Nature – A Planet on the Edge.

The theme for Global Canvas 2022 was Forests of Land and Sea which resulted in 800 entries from groups and individuals across 50 countries. Winners and runner-ups came from USA, UK, Greece, Lithuania, India, Dubai, China, Russia, Portugal, and Spain. The Global Canvas 2022 Live Final included guest speakers who gave talks on rainforests and kelp forests. There there was also a masterclass with wildlife artist Alex Flemming before the all-important competition winners were announced.

The Global Canvas children’s art competition is a highlight for schools and art groups whether artists, teachers or budding conservationists. It’s a great way for parents to keep children occupied during the school summer holidays!

Global Canvas 2022 – Ding Workshops (group winner of the 8-11 year age category)

Theme “Biodiversity – the complex web of life”

Our inspiration for the Global Canvas 2023 theme comes from the UN Convention on Global Biodiversity which states we are ‘completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy’. Biodiversity is the foundation that will enable us to build back better. Scientists believe there are around 8.7 million species living in the world today, many of which are yet to be discovered. Biodiversity includes all these animals and plants along with the vibrant and complex ecosystem of the planet’s habitats. Biodiversity also celebrates and highlights the importance of the intrinsic relationship and co-dependency of all living matter and the interrelationships between animals and plants. A complex web of life.

Why biodiversity?

The “Biodiversity – the complex web of life” theme is inspired by the UN vision that states biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people’.

Around 1.2 million species have been identified as at risk of extinction but scientists believe there could be between 9 and 13 million. Some extinctions are invisible as the organisms have disappeared before they have been discovered.  

Biodiversity is not evenly spread around the world with rainforests and reefs highly diverse. The loss of tropical forests accounted for more than 90% of the global deforestation between 2000 to 2018. This is around 157 million hectares – roughly the size of Western Europe. While deforestation is slowing, habitat loss is a big risk to biodiversity in rainforests. 

Drylands are made up of 47% of the land’s surface area and rather than being empty of life, they contain plants and animals that are specialists that thrive in marginal habitats. Drylands are particularly sensitive to the impact of climate change. The biodiversity of islands is particularly at risk as they contain a unique species that exist nowhere else. There are also rare habitats such as the Fynbos in South Africa and chalk grasslands in the UK that are hugely diverse but at risk due to the invasion of alien species. This video from The Royal Society, featuring David Attenborough, explains why biodiversity is important to humans and how we can slow the extinction event that is occurring now. 


Thanks to our generous partner Michael O’Mara Books, who have supported the Global Canvas children’s art competition for many years, we are delighted to announce new prizes for Global Canvas 2023.

Group prizes

There will be a first, second and third prize for the 4-7 year old age group, 8-11 year old age group and the 12-16 year old age group:

  • First prize: £500 worth of art vouchers
  • Second prize: £200 of art vouchers
  • Third prize: £100 of art vouchers

Should art vouchers not be possible, a prize of an equivalent value will be offered.

Individual prizes

There will also be a first, second and third prize for each of the individual age groups (4-7 years, 8-11 years and 12-16 years):

  • First prize: £100 worth of art vouchers
  • Second prize: £50 of art vouchers
  • Third prize: £25 of art vouchers

Should art vouchers not be possible, a prize of an equivalent value will be offered.

All group and individual entrants will receive a certificate and a digital adoption.

How to enter Global Canvas 2023

The Global Canvas competition is free to enter and open to groups or individuals aged 4-16 years with judging split 4-7 years, 8-11 years and 12-16 years. Group and individual entries will be judged separately. Entries will be accepted (via a group or individual form on this page) from 8th September 2022 until 10th February 2023.

For group entries, please create a display of artwork based on the “Biodiversity – the complex web of life” theme. You can use any art technique you like. DSWF always likes to see recycled materials used where possible. A group entry can be any size from 2 children all the way up to an entire school. Individual entries can be made up of any art technique with artworks any size providing they fit in with the “Biodiversity – the complex web of life” theme and the work is original.

Photo credit: Russ MacLaughlin

Please note no physical artwork should be sent to the DSWF offices. We will need photograph/s (and a video if you create one) as part of all group and individual submissions. Entries will be judged on composition, mood, implementation of the techniques used, successful interpretation of the theme, originality, creativity and your understanding of biodiversity and conservation issues that relate to your artwork. The decision of the judges will be final.

You can find out how to create a display for Global Canvas here, read our tips on how to use recycled products in your creation here and view the Global Canvas 2022 winners here.

We wish you all the very best of luck and look forward to seeing your entries from 8th September onwards. To keep up to date with the latest updates about Global Canvas, make sure you’ve signed up to our newsletter and keep an eye on our social channels.