Stark Photos Show the State of the Environment

Winning images highlight impact of coastal erosion, forest fires, and drought.

flooded house in Po Valley

Michele Lapini / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

A home in Italy is completely surrounded by water due to river flooding and melting snow. A child in Africa sleeps in a home destroyed by coastal erosion. Flocks of sheep search for grass in an area of never-ending cracked soil.

These are some of the winning images in the Environmental Photographer of the Year competition. In its 14th year, the contest features global environmental photography. The 2021 event received nearly 7,000 images from professional and amateur photographers from more than 119 nations.

Michele Lapini won the "Environments of the Future" award for the photo he shot above in Modena, Italy. "Flood" was taken in 2020 and is focused on a house submerged by flooding of the River Panaro in Italy's Po Valley due to heavy rainfall and melting snow.

Winners were announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

The competition was organized by Nikon, as well as Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), a U.K. charity dedicated to improving water and environmental management, and WaterBear, an on-demand streaming platform focused on environmental issues.

The voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open to the public via social media. To vote, hit "like" for your favorite.

Here's a look at some of the other winners, including the Environmental Photographer of the Year.

Environmental Photographer of the Year

child sleeps in house impacted by coastal erosion

Antonio Aragon Renuncio / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

The winning image, "The Rising Tide Sons," was shot in 2019 by Antonio Aragon Renuncio, a documentary photographer, originally from Spain who is living in Nicaragua and spending much of his working time in Africa.

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.

“I am not very optimistic about the future of this child,” Renuncio says. “Although I hope that people's reaction to seeing this, and many other photographs, will be the preamble for this child, along with many others, to have a better chance at life than the one they have today.”

Young Environmental Photographer of the Year

child fighting wildfire near his home in India

Amaan Ali / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 

"Inferno" was photographed in New Delhi in 2021 by Amaan Ali.

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.

The Resilient Award

sheep searching for grass in cracked soil

Ashraful Islam / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

"Survive for Alive" was taken by Ashraful Islam in 2021 in Noakhali, Bangladesh.

Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil. Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardships for all living beings.

Sustainable Cities

photobioreactor in Iceland

Simone Tramonte / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

"Net-Zero Transition - Photobioreactor" was photographed by Simone Tramonte in Iceland in 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.

Climate Action

boy in a sandstorm

Kevin Ochieng Onyango / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

Kevin Ochieng Onyango shot "The Last Breath" in Nairobi, Kenya, in 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.

Water and Security

boat in algae blooms

Sandipani Chattopadhyay / Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

The "Green Barrier" was photographed by Sandipani Chattopadhyay in India in 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.
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