The winners of the annual CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year competition have been announced to coincide with the UN Climate Action Summit that took place in New York recently. According to the panel of judges, the images chosen all look to ‘expose the terrible impacts being wrought on our planet by humans, but also celebrate humanity’s innate ability to survive and innovate, lending hope to us all that we can overcome challenges to live sustainably’.
The competition is run by CIWEM and supported by the UN Environment, Arup and Olympus UK. Terry Fuller, CIWEM chief executive said of the entries: ‘Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the time to act. We need to see action from all sectors of society. This competition showcases the reality of how people are being impacted by the climate all around the world and aims to spread an important message worldwide to inspire big change.’
(All images © Photographer/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)
The overall winner (above) is High Tide Enters Home by SL Shanth Kumar. A victim of climate change: A huge wave lashed at a shanty town in Bandra, Mumbai, throwing a 40-year old fisherman out of his home. He was pulled in by the strong currents, and was rescued by fellow fishermen. The reclaimed city of Mumbai is facing an increased risk of coastal flooding as a result of the climate crisis. The city’s land and sea temperatures have been rising causing a corresponding impact on the sea level. Of the image, Kumar says: ‘I believe change is a constant phenomenon. Today this change is manifesting in the form of climate change. As a photojournalist, I am seeing it all unfurl before my eyes. I have seen drought, excessive rain, summers getting hotter and winters getting colder. I believe this change is not good and we need to act now otherwise it will impact the generations to come.’
Aside from Kumar, there were five category winners; Changing Environments; Sustainable Cities; Water, Equality and Sustainability; Climate Action and Energy; and the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year.
The Changing Environments Prize was won by Sean Gallagher for the above shot of Tuvalu – Beneath a Rising Tide. Fallen trees lie on a beach as the waves from the Funafuti lagoon in Tuvalu lap around them. Land erosion has always been a problem for the country, but problems are intensifying as sea levels rise. Rising seas are on the verge of submerging the tiny archipelago’s islands completely.
For the Sustainable Cities Prize, Eliud Gil Samaniego took the award for this image titled Polluted New Year. On 1 January of 2018, Mexicali, Baja California, was one of the most contaminated cities in the world because of the high levels of pyrotechnics, the effects of climate change, its geographic location, industry and the number of cars lining its streets.
The Water, Equality and Sustainability Prize was won by this image titled Water Scarcity by Frederick Dharshie Wissah. A young boy is drinking dirty water due to lack of water points in Kakamega in Kenya, which has occurred due to deforestation. A lack of clean water greatly increases the risk of diarrhoeal diseases as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, and other water-borne tropical diseases.
Remains of the Forest by J Henry Fair took the Climate Action and Energy Prize. Hambach Forest in Niederzier, Germany, was nearly 12,000 years old when it was bought by a power company looking to dig for brown coal buried beneath it. The ancient forest was once the size of Manhattan. Now only ten per cent of it remains.
Finally, this year’s Young Environmental Photographer of the Year was Neville Ngomane for Desperate Measures, his dramatic and powerful shot of a rhino being de-horned in Limpopo, South Africa in an attempt to protect it from being poached. With the current severe level of poaching, experts recommend that rhinos should be dehorned every 12 to 24 months to effectively deter hunters. Ngomane said of taking the image: ‘This was not an easy watch.’
The remaining shortlisted entries were...
Sleep Fatigue by Amdad Hossain pictures a woman sleeping on a dirty riverbank in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In Sweet Dreams by Antonio Aragon Renuncio, a girl sleeps on a desk inside her schoolroom near the border of Burkina Faso. Extreme rains have tripled in the Sahel in the last 35 years due to global heating. The climate crisis has caused 70 episodes of torrential rains in the last decade, although the region still suffers severe episodes of drought.
The Plastic Quarry is also by Aragon Renuncio. In this image a boy plays with a plastic bag in Ouagadougou again in Burkina Faso. 380 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide each year and production increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
For Lungs of the Earth, photographer Ian Wade comments that: ‘Photographing trees at night with a long shutter speed and four LED spotlights isn’t easy, the tiniest amount of wind will blur the canopy. It took me five long nights to capture this image in Somerset. But it was well worth it, the final image shows the trees in all their spender.’
‘Thousands of ultrapoor people come to Dhaka to find work,’ says M Yousuf Tushar of his shot titled Daily Labor. ‘Having failed to get decent employment, they instead do hard manual work such as unloading coal from vessel by carrying it on their heads.’
Trash Underwater by Şebnem Coşkun depicts cleaning operations taking place in the Bosporus as part of the Zero Waste Blue project.
Tran Tuan Viet’s image, Heart of the Ocean, looks at how decreasing fish stocks in Phu Yen, Vietnam, are leading to increasingly extreme fishing methods. Destructive fishing with small hole nets, such as those being sewn in the above image, devastate the marine environment.
In the Sisdol landfill in Nepal, wastepickers rummage through garbage all day long looking for materials or valuables to sell, depicted here by Valerie Leonard in Invisible. This temporary landfill located near Kathmandu has been in operation since 2005. Today it is running out of capacity.
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