Kofi Annan, Nobel Laureate and former Secretary General of the United Nations, has awarded this year‟s prestigious Prix Pictet photography prize for environmental sustainability to British based photographer Nadav Kander and a photography commission to American photographer Ed Kashi at the Passage de Retz, Paris. The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme.
This year that theme is „earth‟. Nadav Kander was nominated for his series of photos, Yangtze, The Long River Series, 2006-07, documenting the rapidly changing landscape and communities of China‟s Yangtze River, from its mouth to source.
The photographers were selected from a shorlist of twelve of the world‟s leading photographers: Darren Almond, Christopher Anderson, Sammy Baloji, Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, Naoya Hatakeyama, Nadav Kander, Ed Kashi, Abbas Kowsari, Yao Lu, Edgar Martins and Chris Steele-Perkins.
Making the formal presentation at an awards dinner at the Passage de Retz in Paris, Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet said that the photographs were a compelling call for action to tackle climate change, the most serious humanitarian and environmental challenge facing the world today: “Only weeks separate us from the decisive negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen. We are confronted with the vital need to prepare the political momentum necessary for a fair and effective post-Kyoto agreement. The images in front of us remind us of the fragility of our planet and the damage we have already done. When we see these photographs we cannot close our eyes and remain indifferent. Through our actions and voices, we must keep building the pressure to secure urgent action at Copenhagen and beyond.”
Each year Pictet & Cie supports the work of a charity whose work mirrors the theme of the prize. For 2009 Pictet & Cie will support Azafady, a UK-based charity and Malagasy-registered NGO. Specifically Pictet & Cie will support Azafady‟s Voly Hazo project that aims to preserve the earth from degredation and the eventual desertification that is seen so widely in Madagascar with a programme of tree planting and preservation of the natural forest. Ed Kashi has been commissioned to visit Madagascar with the Azafady team in order to produce a series of photographs that will highlight many of the issues that Azafady are focusing on in this unique and endangered environment. An exhibition of the work made for the commission will launch the 2010 prize in the Spring 2010.
Mark Jacobs, Director of Azafady UK said “Madagascar‟s extraordinary biodiversity stems from the island‟s long isolation from other landmasses. With over 80 per cent of its plant and animal wildlife found only on this island it is as important as protected areas like the Galapagos Islands. But this unique ecosytem is under threat and poverty is playing a large part in the destruction of the country‟s natural environment. While international attention often focuses on the needs of mainland Africa, the island of Madagascar is rarely thought of. We are therefore delighted that Pictet & Cie have decided to support the work of Azafady.”
The Prix Pictet will tour to further international venues from late 2009 to early 2010. Venues confirmed for the tour include: the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai and the Eindhoven University of Technology.