The Winner Of The Environmental Photographer Of The Year Competition Will Break Your Heart

"Colored Pollution" by Mahdi Skafi/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

Whether it's a ship stranded in Iran's Urmia Lake, a monkey clutching a plastic bottle, or a Singaporean highrise highlighting the socio-environmental cost of urban living, the Environmental Photographer of the Year competition aims to reveal the current state of our environment, as well as the people (and animals) living in it.

The contest is run by the UK's Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and this year, received entries from 89 countries. 


Previous winners have been diverse – from wildfires in Alberta to a child collecting waste with her mother and ants using dandelion seeds as parachutes.

In 2018, Iranian photographer Saeed Mohammadzadeh earned himself the title of "Environmental Photographer of the Year 2018" for his captivating (yet shocking) photograph "End Floating". The photo reveals a ship sitting in Urmia Lake, Iran, where climate change has intensified droughts, causing the lake to dry up to leave large deposits of salt. The proliferation of dams, irrigation projects, and illegal wells have exacerbated the problem.

As salinity reaches levels eight times higher than ocean water, habitats are being destroyed by the sheer saltiness of the lake. Local residents are also having to contend with noxious, salt-tinged dust storms that cause eye, skin, and lung inflammation.

Saeed Mohammadzadeh/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

Here is a selection of some of the short-listed entries:


“Dryness” by Chinmoy Biswas, India – winner of Changing Climates Prize

Chinmoy Biswas/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

A child sits on land that has cracked due to drought and dehydration. Long spells without water mean the ground may remain open underground while it appears sealed on the surface.

“Happiness on a rainy day” by Fardin Oyan, Bangladesh – winner of Young Environmental Photographer of the Year

Fardin Oyan/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

Bangladesh's flat geography and Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta make it vulnerable to flooding. Here, children are seen rejoicing in the rain.


“Bulrush” by Ümmü Kandilcio?lu, Turkey – winner of the Sustainability in Practice Prize

Ümmü Kandilcio?lu/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

A man makes straw from reeds.

“And life rises” by Younes Khani Someeh Soflaei, Iran – winner of the Built Environment Prize

Younes Khani Someeh Soflaei/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

In 2017, Sarpol-e Zahab, Iran, was hit by an earthquake that killed more than 600 residents. A woman and child stand with their possessions rescued from what was left of their house following the disaster.


"Boulmigou The Paradise of Forgotten Hearts" by Antonio Aragón Renuncio, Burkina Faso – highly commended 

Antonio Aragón Renuncio/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

Here, a child plays with old tires. They will later be burned to warm the rock in the quarry of Boulmigou, a practice that results in extreme pollution, fires, groundwater contamination, and severe health problems for the area's residents.  

Not in My Forest by Calvin Ke, Malaysia – highly commended

Calvin Ke/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

Plastic pollution has been a major subject of media attention in 2018. A southern pigtailed macaque in the remote jungles of Borneo, Malaysia, holds one of the 1 million plastic bottles produced every minute. Very few are ever recycled. 


Save Turtle by Jing Li, Sri Lanka – highly commended

Jing Li/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

"We found a young turtle caught in a net bag when we were searching for whales in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. A freediver rescued the turtle," Li told the judges.

Floating life on river under pollution by Tapan Karmakar, India – highly commended

Tapan Karmaker/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

A man lies on a boat, floating in the polluted Buriganga River in Bangladesh.


Urban life in Singapore by Thigh Wanna, Singapore – highly commended

Thigh Wanna/CIWEM environmental photographer of the year 2018

"About 80 percent of the people in Singapore live in high-rise apartment buildings. Air pollution remains a significant problem in a number of Asian locations. Health facility provision is also a problem for many parts of the region," Wanna told judges.



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