Today, I have the honour of congratulating Greenpeace photographer Daniel Beltra on becoming the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Daniel made his winning picture for Greenpeace, of oil-soaked brown pelicans at a temporary bird-rescue facility in Fort Jackson, Louisiana, while documenting the environmental impacts caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
During Daniel’s 15-years with Greenpeace, he has spent long weeks on board ships and in remote locations, becoming a world-class photographer, and a dedicated environmental campaigner . His exhibitions and publications on international projects such as Southern Ocean whaling, global rainforest destruction and ocean defence have become a means for Daniel to voice his environmental concerns during media interviews, presentations and lectures.
2011 has been a great year for photography awards at Greenpeace, and we’ve seen a significant change in the media landscape. Earlier this year, Greenpeace photographer Lu Guang won 3rd prize for spot news features at the World Press Photo Awards for his Dalian Oil Spill story, the first time an non-governmental organisation has ever won a World Press award for a news story.
Today’s news of Daniel’s compelling, groundbreaking award marks the first time that the internationally prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s winning picture shifts from pictorial to journalistic. It signifies that it’s time to take a completely new look at the environment, not just as nature as something beautiful, but also as nature in crisis.
Not only is winning the Wildlife Photographer of the Year important for Greenpeace, but also how Daniel’s image will inspire a desire for change in the millions of people that will see it, in newspapers and magazines, online, and as the exhibition tours the world. For Greenpeace, this way of campaigning for a better world holds as much persuasive power as the non-violent direct action that Greenpeace is best known for.
Thank you, Daniel, and once again, congratulations - as a friend and colleague Daniel we hold your work as photographer and environmentalist in high esteem.
John Novis is Head of Photography at Greenpeace International
Daniel Beltra in the Southern Ocean, 2007, by Gavin Newman.