Under embargo until 00.01am GMT, Friday 2nd December 2022, London, UK: The winners of the 2022 Environmental Photographer of the Year are today announced by CIWEM (water and environmental management charity), WaterBear (free streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet), Nikon (world-leading imaging product provider) and Arup (sustainable development professional services firm). Now in its 15th 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 issues that put our planet at risk.

2022 winners

The full list of the winning photographs and winners of this year’s competition are:

●Environmental Photographer of the Year: The Bitter Death Of Birds, Mehdi Mohebi Pour, 2021

●Young Environmental Photographer of the Year-Nikon Award: Beautiful But Hostile Colours On Earth, Fayz Khan, 2022

●Vision of the Future: Vertical Farming, Arie Basuki, 2022

●Recovering Nature: Naturalia: Chronicle Of Contemporary Ruins, Jonathan”Jonk” Jimenez, 2021

●Keeping 1.5 Alive: Chemical Explosion, Subrata Dey, 2022

●Adapting for Tomorrow: New Ways To The Future (III), Simone Tramonte, 2021

Jury response

“I found this image particularly touching due to its stillness. Contrary to one of the basic rules of photography, the rule of third, which suggests to place your subject in one of the thirds, the photographer decided to frame all the elements right in the centre. By doing this, the immediacy is even more poignant. The dead bird in the foreground is right in your face and leads to the two people behind in the background cleaning up the other dead birds.”

"This is the image that most connects me with my training base, which is photojournalism. It shows a very impactful and shocking situation. I believe in the power of sensitizing global society through the images made by journalists and this image brings together all the elements for that."

“I love the way the movement and different colours combine to create a unique pattern in this wonderful image. While the beauty of the image catches your eye, reading the caption opens your eyes to a sad reality. The image is both compelling and frightening in the way it shows that something beautiful can be toxic and dangerous at the same time.”

"This photo synthesizes a very evident transformation of planet earth. Photographing climate change is a very difficult task and the image manages to overcome the challenges."

The winners respond

“I was born in a very green and beautiful province in Iran and photographing nature and wildlife has been something I have loved ever since I picked up the camera. For several years now, I have been photographing and researching the Miankaleh Wetland Project and photographing all the good and bad events that occur in the Wetland."

“The Miankaleh wetland is being destroyed by changes in the climate and it is my duty as a photographer to highlight these problems and create a record for history. I want to prevent the complete destruction of the wetland and the potential environmental disaster by showing the issues and threats to these beautiful natural places. The death of the wetland is equal to the death of the earth and the death of humans.

“I believe ‘The Bitter Death of Birds’ was noticed by the judges because the image shows a scary perspective and the possibility of this happening all over the world. The photo highlights the danger to the planet.”

“While I have been doing photography for a few years, I have not dared to believe I could win the Young EPOTY award. Just being short-listed was a huge thing for me … To now win this prestigious award from people who care about sustainability and our planet’s environment is more than a dream come true. That the winning image is from a part of the world that fascinates me is icing on the cake!”

“I love Africa for many reasons, foremost of which is the wildlife and the preserved natural beauty of the continent. My family and I had a trip planned to the Rift Valley, Kenya, in 2020, but unfortunately due to COVID, we were unable to go until this past summer. A helicopter safari in the Rift Valley has been on my “Top 3” list of photography destinations, ever since I saw images of the salt pans of Lake Magadi and Lake Natron. I always knew it would be a special trip, but I never knew how special until I saw with my own eyes the extraordinary colours which change dramatically within a few seconds of flying over the lakes."

“I am so grateful to win this award and that my photography has been appreciated by the EPOTY jury. It's such an honor that my photos was recognised, as photos from previous years have such strong messages about the environment and human interaction in it. The issue of food security in the midst of global climate change is currently a very prevalent issue. I decided to photograph vertical farming because I wanted to show a different side to conventional farming in general. With vertical farming photos, you can show the other side of farming in buildings that are suitable to be applied in urban areas, where land is very limited with a shorter planting period and free of pesticides and other chemical elements.”

“By winning the ‘Recovering Nature’ category, I hope the picture will be shared far and wide, along with the message that goes with it. That would make me even happier than I already am by winning the competition.”

“I travel the world looking for abandoned places reclaimed by nature. These pictures hold a clear aestheticism, but also have a philosophical aspect. They talk about our place on Earth and our relationship with Nature. I always show them in a chronological manner: in her inexorable progression, Nature starts reclaiming outsides before infiltrating buildings and growing inside them. The next steps are collapse and burial. We can then ask ourselves, when Nature and Time take back what Man abandoned, what will be left of our civilization? This winning picture illustrates the growing inside part of the reclaiming process."

"I have been shooting for the last 20 years and the incident I captured for the competition was so shocking to me. It was such a devastating chemical explosion. I know the danger and after-effects of chemical mishap; because of the reactive effect of the chemical, I could not reach the spot of the chemical container terminal in the first two days. When I was finally able to reach it, the scene just took away my words and tears. I would say 49 lives were killed simply because of poor, or no, management of the container field. Most of them were poor laborers and their lives were worth more than that! ... I believe that we as photographers can share important messages and I dream of a beautiful and ethical world.”

"Receiving this award represents to me an incredible opportunity to circulate the message I wanted to share. Climate change is a challenge that we should all take responsibility for. My goal was to give a positive message of hope. This photo represents the harmony between man and technology as part of a wider piece of work, ‘Net Zero Transition’ which analyses the relationship between man, the environment and innovation, to allow Europe to become the first carbon neutral continent.

The net-zero transition has already begun and it is meant to be the next industrial revolution. I firmly believe in the communicative power of photography. Telling a story through photographs has an enormous potential to deliver messages, stimulate curiosity, wonder, or awareness in the viewer."

CIWEM responds

“This year, our ethics panel scrutinised the shortlisted images through several lenses. It was a masterclass in respectful disagreement. Perhaps the challenge is this: we want sensational images. We cannot be sensationalist. CIWEM pledges to inform, educate and influence, grounded in fact, evidence and science. EPOTY harnesses the power of storytelling. It treads a fine line between raw depiction and staging that clarifies – even amplifies – the story. What matters is not to mislead people. The standard of photography has been consistently high over the years. Our shortlisting was as challenging this year as ever. Scale is very important in environmental photography - macro and micro. This year the use of drone technology is more evident which, when used appropriately, has helped to illustrate the large scale of issues. Mixed with the intimacy of hand held shots, we have arrived at a truly stunning and diverse portfolio.”

PR & marketing contact details

For more information contact: epoty@ciwem.org.

GALLERY (2022)