Spectacular Winning Photos of The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

The Environmental Photographer Of The Year competition, now in its 14th year, showcases some of the world’s most inspirational environmental photography.

The award celebrates humanity’s ability to survive and innovate and supports the calls to action in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The winners of this year’s competition were revealed at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.


Flooding near Modena, Italy, 2020, a winning image in the environments of the future category. (Photo by Michele Lapini/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)

More: The Environmental Photographer of the Year, Instagram


Environmental photographer of the year: The Rising Tide Sons – Togo, West Africa, 2019. 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, affecting more than 4,900 miles (8,000km) of seacoast in 13 West African countries. Rising sea levels are forcing the ocean floor to readjust by removing sediment from the coast, washing it away from the shore. (Photo by Antonio Aragon Renuncio/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Young environmental photographer of the year – Nikon award: Inferno, New Delhi, India. A boy fighting 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. (Photo by Amaan Ali/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Winner – water and security: Green Barrier, West Bengal, India, 2021. Irregular monsoon seasons and droughts cause algal bloom on the Damodar river. Algal blooms prevent light from penetrating the surface and prevent oxygen absorption by the organisms beneath, impacting human health and habitats in the area. (Photo by Sandipani Chattopadhyay/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Winner – climate action: The Last breath, Nairobi, Kenya. A young boy holding a tree seedling with one of its leaves 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. 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 dioxide from the air, storing the carbon in trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. (Photo by Kevin Ochieng Onyango/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Winner – sustainable cities: Net-zero transition. 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. (Photo by Simone Tramonte/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Winner – The Resilient award: Survive for Alive – Noakhali, Bangladesh, 2021. Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil. Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardship for all living beings. (Photo by Ashraful Islam/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Arhhangelsk region, Russia, March 2021. Researchers weigh an anaesthetised Polar bear on Franz Josef Land in the Arctic Ocean during the Umka 2021 expedition organised by the Russian Geographical Society. Taking part in the expedition are experts from Russian Arctic National Park, the NN Zubov State Oceanographic Institute, and institutes and research centres of the Russian Academy of Sciences: the Geophysical Survey Federal Research Centre, the Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, the AN Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute. (Photo by Grigorov Gavriil/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Seeking pure drinking water, Khulna, Bangladesh. Women search for water in Shora-9 of Gabura union in Satkhira. Over a decade after cyclone Aila, freshwater ponds and wells have become increasingly saline. Women are traditionally responsible for collecting water and make multiple trips over longer distances to supply their families. (Photo by Sultan Ahmed Niloy/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Polluted Buriganga River, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2021. A busy polluted waterway on Buriganga River is filled with boats and their passengers on the morning work commute to the densely populated city of Dhaka, home to an estimated 21 million people. (Photo by Azim Khan Ronnie/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Jute grown in the Ganges Delta, West Bengal, India, 2021. Jute is a sustainable alternative to plastic with a low cost of production. The government in India is supporting development of the jute sector. (Photo by Sandipani Chattopadhyay/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Drying incense, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2019. Workers sit surrounded by bundles of incense sticks in Quang Phu Cau village in Hanoi, Vietnam. Incense has been made using traditional methods here for hundreds of years and plays an important role in the spiritual lives of Vietnamese people. (Photo by Azim Khan Ronnie/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted : The polygonal forest, Sierra de Béjar, Salamanca, Spain, 2019. Chestnut forests are managed sustainably by felling trees in polygonal zones leaving uncut areas in the middle, which aid natural reforestation. (Photo by Roberto Bueno/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Confined in Plastic, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2021. A child sits on a ladder in a plastic bottle recycling factory in Bangladesh. PET recycling in Bangladesh is a growing industry, however collection and sorting are predominantly done by hand. (Photo by Subrata Dey/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Hooked Pup – Coronado Islands, Mexico 2020. A California sea lion pup with a hook embedded in his mouth follows the diver and seems to be asking for help. (Photo by Celia Kujala/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Marine pollution from aquaculture, 2020, Vietnam. Aquaculture from ponds near the beach discharge directly into the sea and cause pollution to the marine environment. (Photo by Nguyen Duy Sinh/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Cathedral in the desert, Lake Powell, Utah, US, 2021. Originally named for its natural resemblance to a cathedral, the monument has been buried nearly 100 feet under the flood-waters of the Lake Powell reservoir since 1963. Droughts reduced the water level in 2021 enabling this image of Reflection Canyon. (Photo by Jay Huang/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Dry fish harvesting, Sirajganj, Bangladesh, 2020. Dry fish terraces cover vast areas of the Sirajganj district. Dry fish production is the primary source of employment for many rural families near the Chalan Beel, which is under threat due to anthropogenic environmental impacts. (Photo by Ashraful Islam/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Nemo’s Garden, Noli, Italy, 2021. Nemo’s Garden represents an alternative system of agriculture especially dedicated to those areas where environmental conditions or geo-morphological reasons make plants growth extremely difficult. This completely self-sustainable project aims at making underwater farming a viable eco-friendly solution to counteract the increasing climate change pressures on our future. (Photo by Giacomo d`Orlando/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: Clean energy, Serra de São Macário, Portugal, 2021. Wind turbines on the mountaintops are captured moments before sunset on a cloudy day. (Photo by Pedro de Oliveira Simões Esteves/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: The Life: A narrow strip, Río Tinto, Huelva, Spain. A narrow strip of road divides ochre-coloured and fresh waters. Trees wait on the fresh side of the road opposite the toxic waters of a nearby mine reservoir. (Photo by Roberto Bueno/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)


Shortlisted: The Valley of the Mud – Surya, Crimean Peninsula, 2020. (Photo by Elena Pakhalyuk/CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021)

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