Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

Winning photographs will be revealed and showcased at the COP26 in Glasgow this November

Flood, Michele Lapini, 2020, A house is submerged by the flooding of the River Panaro in the Po Valley due to heavy rainfall and melting snow

CIWEM, Water Bear, and Nikon have launched the search for The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021. Now in its 14th year, this annual competition showcased the most inspirational environmental photography from around the world. The award celebrates humanity’s ability to survive and innovate and showcases thought-provoking images that call attention to our impact and inspire us to live sustainably.

The competition is free to enter for all ages. Professional and amateur photographers alike are invited to submit their most provocative, emotive and captivating environmental photography. Participants will be competing for cash awards and prizes across 8 categories, and for the top award of The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021.

Survive for alive, Ashraful Islam, 2021, Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil. Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardships for all living beings.

As part of the Road to the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) and United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 provides an international platform to raise awareness for the environmental issues that put our planet at risk. The winning photographs will be announced at COP 26.

“As the world looks forward to the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) and United Nations Climate Change Conference, it is essential that we advocate for a low-carbon way of living and stress the importance of adapting to a changed climate. There is no more powerful way to do this than through imagery. In such an important year, CIWEM is determined that the 2021 EPOTY competition is more impactful than it has ever been before”, said Terry Fuller, Chief Executive of CIWEM.

The rising tide sons, Antonio Aragon Renuncio, 2019, 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.

The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 features a new set of categories this year, including:

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

Net-zero transition - Photobioreactor, Simone Tramonte, 2020, A photobioreactor at Algalif’s facilities in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, produces sustainable astaxanthin using clean geothermal energy. Iceland has shifted from fossil fuels to 100% of electricity and heat from renewable sources.

Sam Sutaria, Head of Strategy at Water Bear said “Water Bear is thrilled to be bringing The Environmental Photographer of the Year to audiences around the world in partnership with CIWEM and Nikon Europe. To showcase the power of this storytelling, Water Bear is proud to collaborate with Nikon Europe and CIWEM, bringing a legacy of documentary storytelling and impact to this highly esteemed competition.”

Julian Harvie, Head of Marketing for Nikon Northern Europe said, “In the hands of the World's greatest photographers, Nikon has been at the heart of many of the most important stories told over the course of the last century. Empowering photographers and videographers to seek out those moments, realise their creative vision and illuminate the ineffable has long been central to our brand's purpose. Climate change and the protection of our environment are the most important stories of our time. We are delighted, therefore, to be able to support this incredible award alongside CIWEM and Water Bear, reaffirming the power of photography to change the world.'

Green barrier, Sandipani Chattopadhyay, 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.

This year’s collaboration between Water Bear, Nikon Europe and CIWEM is empowered by the media reach and storytelling capabilities of the Water Bear platform and global network and the specialist expertise of CIWEM and Nikon.

Inferno, Amaan Ali, 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.

Water Bear's unique approach to storytelling connects the competition with an engaged, conscious millennial and Gen Z audience who visit the platform to watch, connect and take action. Nikon Europe harnesses the power of photography, videography and visual creativity alongside a legacy of more than 100 years to inspire storytelling for all generations. CIWEM’s community of environmental professionals support the urgent calls to action of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and recognise the intricate interconnected nature of development, poverty reduction, equality, security and climate action.

The year’s competition also has the continued support of Arup. As a leading global firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, Arup is helping raise the profile of the innovative and impactful ways in which climate and ecological challenges are being addressed. The Environmental Photographer of the Year is a call to all sectors of society to address the defining issues of our time.

The Last breath, Kevin Ochieng Onyango , 2021, 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.