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Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 Winners

November 8, 2021

The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 winners have been announced! In its 14th year, the Environmental Photographer of the Year (EPOTY) competition showcases inspirational environmental photography from around the world. The award celebrates humanity, and highlights thought-provoking images that bring attention to our impact on the planet.

The photography competition is free to enter for all ages, with entries opened on 21 March 2021, and closing on 14 August 2021. The winners have been announced during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

EPOTY 2021 recieved over 7000 images from photographers in over 120 nations. It is presented by CIWEM, and waterbear, in partnership with Nikon, and is sponsored by ARUP.

The categories for the competition are:

  • Environmental Photographer of the Year
  • Young Environmental Photographer of the Year
  • Environments of the Future
  • Sustainable Cities
  • Climate Action
  • Water and Security
  • The Resilient Award
  • People’s Choice

The competition prizes include £10,000 in cash and award certificate, plus coverage in a number of publications for the overall winner, and there was also a Nikon Z camera and 3 lenses available for the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year.

People’s Choice Award Voting is now open – The voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open to the public via social media. To vote, please visit EPOTY on Instagram.


Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 Competition Winners revealed at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow

Monday 8th November 2021. 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), Glasgow, Scotland. Environmental and water management charity CIWEM, free streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet WaterBear, the world’s largest B Corp Natura &Co, Nikon, and engineering company ARUP have today announced the Environmental Photographer Of The Year 2021 competition’s winners at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow

Now in its 14th year, the Environmental Photographer Of The Year competition showcases some of the world’s most inspirational environmental photography. The annual competition provides an international platform to raise awareness for the environmental issues that put our planet at risk.

Spanish photographer Antonio Aragón Renuncio has won the coveted prize of Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 for his photo titled “The rising tide sons”, which shows a child sleeping inside his house destroyed by coastal erosion on Afiadenyigba beach in Ghana. The photo shines a spotlight on the rising sea-levels in West-African countries, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

Here is the full list of the winning photographs and winners of this year’s competition.

Environmental Photographer of the Year:

The rising tide sons, Antonio Aragon Renuncio, 2019. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

The rising tide sons, Antonio Aragon Renuncio, 2019. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

“A child sleeps on the floor of his house about to collapse, destroyed by coastal erosion on Afidegnigba beach. Sea levels off the coast of Togo and other West African countries continue to rise and swallow up everything in their path. Homes, crops, roads, trees, schools, jobs, resources… lives. However, the shore of this small country in the Gulf of Guinea is only one part of the massive problem that affects more than 8,000 kilometers of seacoast in 13 West African countries. Punished by global warming, rising sea levels are forcing the ocean floor to readjust by removing sediment from the coast and washing it away from the shore. This causes marine erosion capable of devouring dozens of meters of land each year. As a result of this environmental global problem, thousands of people (mainly women and children) have already been forced to leave their homes and migrate inland in search of food, shelter and to avoid a certain death… Many thousands more await their inexorable future… That next rising tide that takes everything away.”

A child sleeps inside his house destroyed by coastal erosion on Afiadenyigba beach. Sea-levels in West-African countries continue to rise and thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes.

  • Location: Togo, West Africa
  • Camera: Sony Alpha A7 III

Young Environmental Photographer of the Year – Nikon Award:

Inferno, Amaan Ali, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Inferno, Amaan Ali, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

A boy fighting surface fires in a forest near his home in Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India. According to locals, forest fires caused by human activity in the area are a common occurrence due to adverse living conditions.

  • Location: New Delhi, India
  • Camera: Nikon D750

Environments of the Future:

Flood, Michele Lapini, 2020. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Flood, Michele Lapini, 2020. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021. An aerial view of the Panaro river’s flooding near Modena, Italy.

A house is submerged by the flooding of the River Panaro in the Po Valley due to heavy rainfall and melting snow.

  • Location: Nonantola, Modena, Italy
  • Camera: Hasselblad L1D-20c / DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

Sustainable Cities:

Net-zero transition - Photobioreactor, Simone Tramonte, 2020. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Net-zero transition – Photobioreactor, Simone Tramonte, 2020. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

“A photobioreactor at Algalif facilities in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Algalif plant produces sustainable astaxanthin from micro-algae using 100% clean geothermal energy. In the Starvation Phase, the algae culture is exposed to UV light to cause stress conditions and induce astaxanthin synthesis. The proprietary lighting system enables Algalif to reduce overall energy consumption by 50%, in addition to providing for optimal microalgae growth, productivity and yield. The production methods allow for 0% water evaporation, while some manufacturers lose up to 20% of water per day. Algalif doesn’t have to cool, heat, or move water during our production process, allowing us to conserve water.”

A photobioreactor at Algalif ’s facilities produces sustainable astaxanthin products. Iceland has shifted from fossil fuels to 100% of electricity and heat from renewable sources.

  • Location: Reykjanesbaer, Iceland
  • Camera: Nikon D810

Climate Action:

The Last breath, Kevin Ochieng Onyango, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

The Last breath, Kevin Ochieng Onyango, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

”Theme: Nature-based solutions to climate change’ – The image is of a young boy holding a tree seedling with one of its leaf wrapped on a polythene bag, a straw comes out seemingly from his nostrils to the bag as though is giving it air. He is in an unhealthy atmosphere as a sandstorm brews behind. The image symbolises that human beings are the only force of nature left to salvage the earth from drastic climate change and save the ozone layer from being totally destroyed. It is up to us to give rise to trees which are water catchment areas by nurturing their seedlings and planting them, in doing so, they help stop climate change by removing carbon(iv) oxide from the air, storing the carbon in trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the  atmosphere. Hence creating a conducive environment for life and nature as a whole.”

A boy takes in air from the plant, with a sand storm brewing in the background. This is an impression of the changes to come.

  • Location: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Camera: Nikon D7200

Water and Security:

Green barrier, Sandipani Chattopadhyay, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Green barrier, Sandipani Chattopadhyay, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Irregular monsoon seasons and droughts cause algal bloom on the Damodar river. Algal blooms prevent light from penetrating the surface and prevent oxygen absorbtion by the organisms beneath, impacting human health and habitats in the area.

  • Location: West Bengal, India
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The Resilient Award:

Survive for alive, Ashraful Islam, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Survive for alive, Ashraful Islam, 2021. By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil. Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardships for all living beings.

  • Location: Noakhali, Bangladesh
  • Camera: Hasselblad L1D-20c / DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

The voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open to the public via social media. To vote, please visit www.instagram.com/environmental_photographer_oty.

To learn more about The Environmental Photographer of the Year winners, visit www.epoty.org.