Vietnam’s Quoc Nguyen Linh Vinh, has won the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s Environmental Photographer of the Year (EPOTY) 2017 award.
“The hopeful eyes of the girl making a living by rubbish”. Was taken in the waste dump of the city of Kon Tum in Vietnam, the poignant image captures a child and mother making a living from collecting waste.
Describing their experience taking the picture, Vinh said: “The child was happy, looking at the dark clouds and chatting to her mother. This was so touching. She should have been enjoying her childhood and playing with friends rather than being there.”
Launched in 2007 the EPOTY showcases the best environmental photography from around the world, by amateur and professional photographers alike.
The CIWEM said that its judges were astounded by the winning photograph and the messages it delivers.
“The spirit of humanity leaps out at you loud from this image, a young girl who should be playing safely, is instead surrounded by filth, danger and pollution, and yet there is hope in her eyes, hope for a better future, hope that one day she will escape a life of toil and drudgery. A very powerful image and a worthy winner,” commented Ashley Cooper, 2017 Judge.
Aged 20 years old, Vinh is a professional photographer who often visits the suburbs to record the everyday life of the people, regions and devastated forests.
When asked how it felt to win EPOTY, Vinh said: “I’ve always dreamed of winning this competition and voicing my concern about the impact of global pollution. We can’t ignore the issues, and must figure out how we can save the planet with practical solutions.”
CIWEM said that it created the competition to inspire individuals globally to think differently about contemporary social and environmental issues, including sustainable development, pollution and human rights.
This year, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of EPOTY, CIWEM was joined by a celebrity judging panel.
The full panel included Stephen Fry, Steve Backshall, Ben Fogle, Max McMurdo, Ayishat Akanbi, Alys Fowler, Helen Glover, Levi Roots, Oliver Heath, Tim Parkin, Ashley Cooper and the Chief Executive of CIWEM, Terry Fuller.
“Throughout my career I have travelled to many places and seen many things, nevertheless these photos have been a real eye-opener,” said Ben Fogle. “This competition has given individuals, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to make an impact and inspire change, something that is so important as we experience further effects of global warming and climate change.”
Terry Fuller, Chief Executive of CIWEM added: “Judging this year’s competition was an absolute privilege and the images showcase a huge range of environmental and social issues around the world. We were all blown away by some of the images, and I am looking forward to seeing this competition grow even further in the future, provoking significant environmental change.”
Jose Luis Rodriguez was awarded the Changing Climates prize for his outstanding ‘Flight for Life’ image, showing a kingfisher caught mid-flight, in the shadow of the severe pollution caused by the numerous factories in the background. He said: “Winning this category is a huge honour as it allows me to showcase my work and send a public message on the importance of protecting the environment.”
Raju Ghosh won the Built Environment category with ‘Struggle’, portraying the struggle of the Indian subcontinent plagued by the monsoon climate. Taken in West Bengal, India, the image of the small boy pictured shows how the infrastructure in place is often not enough to drain the water, and those living in slums are the often the most affected.
Ghosh is keen for his image to help steer change and stated: “I am hopeful that my photograph can help to save our planet and the people who are struggling in it every day.”
Lloyd Ericson Castro Rodriguez won the Mobile Phone category for the image ‘After The Monsoon’ also shows the disruption of a monsoon on a child’s life through this work.
The young boy pictured is enjoying playing on his bicycle in the flood in front of the San Guillermo Parish Church in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Rodriguez said: “Despite the conditions the boy is living in, he’s still having fun as he splashes the wheels of his bike. I'm so grateful to CIWEM for allowing me to be both a photographer and a storyteller. This win motivates me to capture more stories, share them, and inspire the world."
This year’s Young Environmental Photographer of the Year is Syed Umer Hasan for the picture ‘Karachi Wildlife’.
As one of the world’s fastest growing cities, Karachi is facing a crisis with stray dogs. Hundreds of them are being poisoned, spurring animal rights activists to condemn the killings. At the same time, thousands of people in the city are suffering from dog bites.
Hasan said: “Such problems are prevalent in third world countries across the world, and neither the people nor animals deserve this. My photo shines a light on this important matter.”
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