10 Photos That Speak Truth to Power for World Photography Day

by Sudhanshu Malhotra

August 19, 2016

For World Photography Day today, we're celebrating the power of photos to inspire action and mobilize millions toward protecting the planet.

It was a tough task to select ten images from the more than 18,000 that Greenpeace has produced in the last 12 months to honor World Photography Day. But this selection gave me a chance to look back at the amazing work that’s happening across the world.

These are not necessarily the most beautiful images, but they represent the diversity of our movement. They are a testimony to people’s courage and determination to fight for a better future. They exemplify the role of photography in activism. They have the power to transfer the energy and emotions of a single moment — to tell a story that has gone untold or capture an event that cannot be put in words.

They capture Indigenous communities in the Amazon to coral reefs in Australia, forest fires in Indonesia to activist grandparents in Japan.

There’s just one thing left to find out: which one is your favorite?

1. Brazil’s Munduruku Indigenous group fights to protect the heart of the Amazon.

Munduruku Child in Sawré Muybu Village in the AmazonCriança Munduruku na aldeia Sawré Muybu

Photo by Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace.

The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu village in the heart of the Amazon for generations. The Brazilian government had planned to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, threatening the Munduruku’s way of life, until it was announced last month that the plans had been indefinitely paused.

The demarcation of Sawré Muybu ensures the conservation of 178,000 hectares of Amazonian rainforest and the preservation of Munduruku culture.

2. Molyvos shows its support for refugee rights.

Safe Passage Demonstration on Lesbos

Photo by Giorgos Moutafis / MSF / Greenpeace.

People hold hands on a beach in Molyvos, Greece, calling for safe passage and no more deaths for refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

The activity was held in solidarity with other protests across the region, as thousands of people in more than 100 cities marched in support of refugee rights.

3. Activists mark the end of the fossil fuel era at the Paris climate talks.

COP21: Arc de Triomphe Sun Action in Paris

Photo by Greenpeace.

As last December’s Paris climate conference entered the closing stretch, Greenpeace activists created a solar symbol around the famed Arc de Triomphe, painting the roads yellow to reveal the image of a huge, shining sun.

The eco-paint was non-polluting, water-based, and was visible from the air when politicians flew out of Paris that weekend. It served as a reminder — especially to world leaders — that whatever the outcome of the negotiations, the road to beating climate change includes replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.

4. Drone footage exposes the extent of Indonesia’s deadly forest fires.

Burned Peatland Forest

Photo by Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.

Drone footage from late 2015 revealed the impact of repeated fires on the forest near the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Plantations for palm oil are one of the biggest drivers of deforestation and peatland draining — a practice that can lead to devastating forest fires.

5. The Esperanza documents destructive industrial tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean.

FADs in the Indian Ocean

Photo by Will Rose / Greenpeace.

Photographer Will Rose captures an aerial view of a fish aggregating device (FAD) at night. Greenpeace’s ship the Esperanza was in the Indian Ocean to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices earlier this Spring.

6. What canned tuna looks like … before it becomes canned tuna.

Frozen Albacore Tuna on Fishing Boat in Samoa

Photo by Paul Hilton / Greenpeace.

Albacore tuna is stacked and weighed before being shipped for processing into canned tuna. Greenpeace’s ship the Rainbow Warrior spent one month in the Pacific Ocean in 2015 to expose illegal and undocumented fishing operations.

Industrial tuna fishing has been linked to shark finning, overfishing, and even human rights abuses.

7. Coral bleaching sweeps across the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef Coral Bleaching around Fitzroy Island and Green Island

Photo by Abram Powell / Greenpeace.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date, with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer temperature of the waters brought on by El Niño.

Parts of the reef have also been damaged by cyclones, the severity and frequency of which are expected to increase as global temperatures rise.

8. Japanese activists rally against U.S. military presence.

Protestors at the Military Base in Okinawa

Photo by Ian Teh / Greenpeace.

Camp Schwab, a U.S. military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa, has been a source of conflict for decades. The proposed expansion of the base would wipe out the seagrass bed, home to the few remaining Japanese dugong, a relative of the manatee.

The local Japanese community are against the expansion of the military bases. In this image taken from protests in 2015, police carried elderly protesters away from the entrance of Camp Schwab. Many of the protesters were elderly people who blocked the entrance using their bodies.

9. Jakarta rallies to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Break Free Action in Jakarta

Photo by Veri Sanovri / Greenpeace.

in Jakarta, Indonesia, an activist wears a farmer’s hat with the words “Break Free” during the Break Free From Fossil Fuels global week of action. Thousands of people took to the streets in a carnival atmosphere to urge the government to end Indonesia’s addiction to coal.

The demonstration was organised by WALHI, Greenpeace, and JATAM. The marchers carried banners calling for Indonesia to reject coal in favor of renewable energy, and to honor the commitments made via the Paris Agreement last year to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

10. “Elegy for the Arctic” inspires millions to take action for Arctic protection.

Composer and Pianist Ludovico Einaudi Performs in the Arctic OceanGreenpeace organiza un concierto historico con el pianista Ludovico Einaudi en el oceano çrtico para pedir su proteccion.

Photo by Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace.

Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs an original composition on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (Svalbard, Norway).

The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by 8 million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi and the grand piano to Svalbard. Greenpeace was urging the OSPAR Commission not to miss the opportunity to protect international Arctic waters under its mandate.

By Sudhanshu Malhotra

Sudhanshu Malhotra is the Multimedia Editor for the Asia Pacific region, based at Greenpeace East Asia.

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