The best environmental photographs in the world

 Rainwater collection, 2012, by Prasanta Biswas (IndiaPicture what happens when the world’s only independent, chartered organization dedicated to achieving a sustainable world teams up with one of the oldest environmental engineering companies to underwrite an environmental photo contest. The eye-popping images of this year’s Atkins CIWEM “environmental photographer of the year” shortlist tell it all.

Image above by Prasanta Biswas – People living in West Bengal, India, face regular water shortages. Climate change has increased temperature and precipitation, increased salinity and extreme weather events such as floods, cyclones and droughts.

CIWEM (The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) is a powerful lobbying force within the UK and abroad. Dating back to 1895, they’ve worked with governments, international organizations, NGOs, and faith groups for a holistic approach to environmental issues.

Atkins, one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies, is sponsoring this year’s competition, which is open to amateurs and professionals – for free!  It aims to provide photographers a chance to share images of environmental and social issues with a global audience, broadcasting the causes, consequences and – ideally – inciting solutions to climate change and social inequality.

Image above by Taylor Weidman – An indigenous Munduruku man and a federal policeman during an occupation of the Belo Monte Dam near Altamira, Brazil. The first of a series of dams planned across the Amazon, it will alter the ecosystem of more than 1,500 km2 around the Xingu River, depleting fish stocks and limiting river access for indigenous fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the river – who have been fighting the project for over 20 years.

Entries are judged on impact, composition, originality, creativity and technical ability. CIWEM says prior winners examined innovation, sustainable development, biodiversity, poverty, climate change, human rights, culture, natural disasters and population growth.

Image above by Kevin McElvaney – Agbogbloshie in Accra, Ghana is one of the world’s largest e-waste dump site, with over 400 ship containers of unusable electronics – falsely labelled as ‘development aid’ or ‘2nd hand products’ are dumped there annually. Children smash stones against old monitors to collect metal. Workers suffer from severe headaches, lung problems, eye and back damage, and insomnia. Most die from cancer before they turn 30.


Winners are chosen from over 10,000 entries. Prizes for this year’s competition were announced on 24 June, and include:

  • Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year – £5000
  • Atkins CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of the Year (Under 18) – £1000
  • Atkins CIWEM Environmental Film of the Year – £1000
  • Atkins Cityscape Prize – £1000
  • Forestry Commission England Exhibition Award: one photographer will be invited to exhibit a solo show at one of England’s public forests

The 2014 finalists will be displayed at the Royal Geographical Society in London from 23 June – 4 July 2014, followed by a tour to other UK venues.

Image above by Tuyet Trinh Do – Women weave fishing net in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, in prep for the annual river flooding. Communities rely on flooding to bring a fish and shrimp to the region. Worsening climate is making flood levels inconsistent, with devastating impact to local livelihoods. In 2012, lower than average flood levels saw fish yields decrease by 40% compared to previous year. by Luke Duggleby – Following uncontrolled forest destruction in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in south-west Cambodia, an eco-warrior monk movement began to try to protect forests at risk. Arriving too late to stop the destruction completely, they wrapped orange cloth around the remaining trees and prayed, making the trees sacred with the hope to deter future loggers. This photo was this year’s winning entry.


Green Prophet was unable to verify if any of the shortlisted images depict Middle Eastern sites – but there is no shortage of opportunity for photographers to capture the negative impacts of climate change in our region. From water-starved farms in Lebanon, to the dropping levels of the Dead Sea, and the knock-on increase in sinkholes along it’s western shores.

Image by Steve Morgan – The Gemasolar solar tower power plant in Fuentes de Andalucía, Seville, Spain, is a circular solar field of 2,650 heliostat mirrors covering 185 hectares. It concentrates sunlight onto the central receiving tower, storing it via molten-salt heat storage technology (which can reach temperatures above 5,000 C) to generate steam which in turn, produces electricity. The plant – which is up to 3 times more productive than other renewable technologies – could supply clean, safe power to 25,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30,000 ton annually.

More interested in innovation? Snap the emerging clean-tech explosion happening in Israel, or bring out a new angle on Masdar City.

The flooding on the Somerset Levels at Burrowbridge. Numerous properties in the rural areas of Thorney, Muchelney and Burrowbridge in Somerset were hit with up to four feet of water when the nearby River Parrett burst its banks in January 2014.

Too late to enter this year’s contest – but mark your calendars for 2015.  A picture is worth a thousand words; it transcends the barrier of world languages.  Keep your eyes peeled for this year’s winners – and grab your camera. Sustainability is ready for its close-up.

Facebook Comments



Get featured on Green Prophet Send us tips and news:[email protected]

One thought on “The best environmental photographs in the world”

Comments are closed.