In the universe are billions of galaxies,
In our galaxy are billions of planets,
But there is #OnlyOneEarth.
Let’s take care of it.

(un.org)

Clouds hover over the rolling hills of Gembu, a remote region in Nigeria’s Mambilla Plateau, on July 19th 2021. The Plateau is Nigeria’s northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon. Photo: Khalid Ozavogu Abdul

June 5th marks World Environment Day, and the theme this year is #OnlyOneEarth. It is a day to appreciate the unique and precious planet that we call home, as well as to raise awareness of the fragility of the environment on which we, and all other living organisms, depend.

With every year that passes, environmental action becomes more urgent, and as our understanding of climate change, habitat loss and pollution increases, it is the role of many charities and NGOs to communicate the growing threats and required action to the public.

However, as the issues become more complicated, the effects of climate change become felt in more unforeseen ways around the world, and the statistics stack up against us, people can feel powerless in response.

But, as is so often the case, when the scale and complexity of the challenges we face are overwhelming, photography steps up to communicate over and above language and statistics, engaging people and moving them to action.

Photography has a unique power to engage on a personal, human level — confronting the viewer with the truth that lies behind the image in a way that can make people understand in a split second.

So, to mark World Environment Day 2022, we asked a selection of the fantastic photographers we have worked with in recent years to share a photograph or two that means #OnlyOneEarth to them:

Vijay Pandey

@vijaypandeyphotography

Vijay is a documentary photographer based in New Delhi, India. Along with working with Arete, he has also worked with other major media organizations including VICE, Outlook India, and Tehelka Magazine.

An activist hugs a tree during the “Save The Tree Campaign” in New Delhi, taking a stand against thousands of trees being cut down in the National Capital to expand government housing facilities and create commercial infrastructure on June 26, 2018 in New Delhi.
Photo: Vijay Pandey

“Trees are the lungs of the earth. It is due to the existence of trees that we inhale fresh air. Earth’s green cover is depleting fast over the years due to rampant tree felling. We have built a concrete jungle by cutting down the trees. The drive for civilization and modernization is harming the environment to an irreversible extent. When man violates nature the planet suffers and we have to bear the harmful consequences. Delhi is among the most polluted cities in the world. According to reports, the city is suffering gravely from pollution and an increasing number of residents are struggling with breathing disorders. In the past two decades lakhs of trees were cut in the name of development projects which reduced the city’s forest cover. Temperature is on the rise because of continuous removal of the green walls of trees. This is our planet and we have to protect it. There is no point of development when people are going to die because of pollution. If deforestation continues the planet will not be inhabitable for future generations because of this imbalance.”

Vijay Pandey

Brian Ongoro

@brian_ongoro

Brian is a photojournalist based in Kenya and has recently worked with Arete on projects for Chance for Childhood and Tearfund Canada.

Community volunteers remove plastic and other waste from River Wigwa in Kisumu, western Kenya on September 18, 2021.
Photo: Brian Ongoro

Aaron Palabyab

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a filmmaker and landscape, time-lapse, and astrophotographer from Metro Manila, Philippines. He works as a director, cameraman, and editor around the Philippines and the world, specialising in travel and documentary.

70m wind turbines stretching in a row for 9 kilometres dominate the landscape at sunrise at the Bangui Wind Farm in Ilocos Norte.
Photo: Aaron Palabyab

“To me, the photograph speaks of the power of the Earth to provide for everyone if we consciously seek a new definition of progress, one that is more patient, and that seeks to preserve the natural cycles that sustain all life.”

Aaron Palabyab

Rudolph Michel de Girardier

@rudiwildd

Rudolph is a filmmaker, photographer and storyteller based in Cape Town, South Africa, specialising in wildlife, conservation, and social impact.

Children from the semi-nomadic Mbororo pastoralist tribe in Chad investigate us while their bull walks forward on my approach, as if protecting its tribe. Comprising less than 5% of the world’s population, indigenous people protect some 80% of the world’s biodiversity (Gleb Raygorodetsky, National Geographic).
Photos: Rudolph Michel de Girardier

“On a month-long documentary assignment for Random Good Films, deeply immersed in the vast plains of the Saharan Desert, we were privileged to observe the sustainable practices of this tribe, their connection to the environment and the respect they hold for it.”

Rudolph Michel de Girardier

Khalid Ozavogu Abdul

@ozavoguabdul

Khalid is an independent travel documentary photographer and filmmaker based in Abuja, Nigeria. He has recently worked with Arete on behalf of UNESCO in Nigeria.

Khalid believes that photography and filmmaking can inform, educate, and shape narratives, and as such, for him it is about storytelling and truth-telling — to better help us see and understand situations.

Clouds hover over the rolling hills of Gembu, a remote region in Nigeria’s Mambilla Plateau, on July 19th 2021. The Plateau is Nigeria’s northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon. The Mambilla Plateau has an average elevation of about 1,600 metres (5,249 ft) above sea level, making it the highest plateau in Nigeria. Some of its towns and villages like Gembu, are situated on hills that are at least 1,828 meters (5,997 ft) above sea level. The Mambilla Plateau is also home to the Gashaka Gumti National Park, the largest national park in Nigeria.
Photo: Khalid Ozavogu Abdul

More on the Mambilla Plateau region can be found in Khalid’s recent Gembu Vlogs Travel Series on YouTube: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLB5BVxO7DnpkVFnAKGUmRlaFDTrYlNPi

“This photo demonstrates to me the uniqueness of our planet — where energies and life, can be felt through the ever-present elements of nature.”

Ozavogu Abdul

Anthony Upton

@ant_upton

Anthony is an editorial photographer based in London and working with major newspapers as well as charities and NGOs. He has recently worked with Arete on behalf of the Disasters Emergencies Committee in Ukraine.

Fog covers Pewsey Vale from Martinsell Hill in Wiltshire.
Photo: Anthony Upton

Fog is made up of many very tiny water droplets or ice crystals. When the air close to the ground is cooled, water vapor condenses into tiny liquid water droplets, which are suspended in the air. This can occur because of added moisture or falling air temperatures. In simplest terms, the dew point (a measure of moisture) must be equal to the temperature for fog to form.

The lowest temperatures occur early in the morning, usually between 5 and 7 am. This means that the temperature will drop closest to the dew point temperature during this time. In addition, the relative humidity rises as the temperature drops, so there is more moisture availability for condensation to occur. With longer nights in the Fall and Winter, there is more time for this process to occur.

Not only does fog form in the morning, it also usually clears quickly in the morning too. Once the sun comes up, it heats the ground and raises the temperature. This brings the temperature away from the dewpoint and causes the fog to mix out.

Photo: Anthony Upton

“To paraphrase Marcel Proust in ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes… Although I’ve travelled to many parts of the world, I’m reminded that it’s important, really important just to look at my surroundings wherever I am. Be it here in England, close to my home, or in far flung distant lands. There is beauty to be protected if we only open our eyes to it and not see the environment as something to be exploited for profit.”

Anthony Upton

Kate Holt

@kateholtphoto

Kate is an award-winning photojournalist, she is a Guardian contributor and teacher, as well as being the founder and Director of Arete.

Juvenal Munganka, who has been a park ranger for 17 years, watches “Bonne Annee”, an Eastern Lowland Gorilla, eat vegetation in the Kahuzi Biega National Park, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
When the Kahuzi Biega Park was first established 50 years ago, their habitat was over 8000 square miles of the DRCongo, an area that has halved along with the number of gorillas. Rangers face daily threats and four have died in the last year from attacks by poachers and people exploiting the park. Juvenal says, “when I first started it was a different time. We worked without guns. Then after the militias came into the park we were allowed to be armed. “
Photo: Kate Holt

“These photographs demonstrate to me how fragile much of our planet is… The rangers who work with the endangered Gorillas in the DR Congo wear masks to prevent them from catching human diseases that they have no immunity too. Often the rangers are killed while protecting the gorillas as seen in the second image [below]. Protecting some of the most important ecosystems in the world is dangerous and complex. We must accept that without our protection though they wouldn’t exist. We mustn’t give up protecting them for the good of the planet and for future generations.”

Kate Holt

A park ranger walks past the grave of another park ranger who lost his life in 2017 to a poacher in Kahuzi Biega National Park, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
Photo: Kate Holt

Mussa Uwitonze

@mussa.photography

Mussa Uwitonze is a photographer and visual storyteller based in Kigali, Rwanda. Capturing images of people and places, his photographs tell a story of diversity and real life.

A man picks up a water bottle thrown by tourists on Prison Island, Tanzania. The Government of Tanzania banned plastic from 1st June 2019. All plastic carrier bags are prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in Tanzania.
Photo: Mussa Uwitonze

“To me this picture represents environmental beauty that should be preserved. For instance in Zanzibar a huge majority of people eat sea food… I imagine how their lives would be if it all died out? I think we should take care of our environment the same way we take care of ourselves.”

Mussa Uwitonze

Karel Prinsloo

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning photographer who has been working mainly in Africa for almost thirty years. He works for various NGOs and news organisations throughout Africa, like UNICEF, WFP, GAVI, IFAW as well as for major international news media from his base in Paris, France.

Paulina Lino, a beneficiary of Ethical Tea Partnership’s landscape initiative, works in the field at her farm in Kundi village, Malawi on 25th August 2021. Ethical Tea Partnership continues to support several training and outreach programmes in Malawi, in order to create a thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable.
Photo: Karel Prinsloo / Ethical Tea Partnership / Arete

Nafkot Gebeyehu

@fuabilich

Nafkot is a portrait and documentary photographer based in Ethiopia. With a passion for visual storytelling, Nafkot finds inspiration from everyday people and shared experiences. She has recently worked with Arete on behalf of Tearfud Canada in Ethopia.

Mesineh Merkineh prays with market-goers in Abala Farecho Village, Sodo Wolaita in Ethiopia on 29th July 2021. For months, he’s been coming to the local market every Thursday in the late afternoon to pray for the nation. “Oh lord, forgive us!” He cries. He makes the people kneel down. “We need to pray for forgiveness! God must heal our land.”
Tearfund Canada continues to support several training and outreach programmes, with the help of Terepeza Development Association in Ethiopia to assist vulnerable, impoverished communities.
Photo: Nafkot Gebeyehu / Tearfund Canada / Arete

Isak Amin

@isak_amin

Isak is a Somali photographer who specialises in landscapes, nature, and travel photography. Isak has been working with Arete for many years for a range of UN agencies across East Africa.

Widespread drought has devastated Tuli Village for 2 years. Now there is no rain, people are going to the big cities to get water and food and livestock is severely diminished.
Photo: Isak Amin / FAO Somalia / Arete
Abdirahman (pictured above) was hit by a severe drought in Garbahaadley, Somalia and lost a large number of livestock.
Photo: Isak Amin / FAO Somalia / Arete

Bernard Kalu

@kabenny_

Bernard Kalu is a visual artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. With a passion for humans and the stories they tell simply by existing, his work aims to explore life and humanity.

Featured in this photo is a woman working at the Olusosun Landfill, in Lagos. This photo demonstrates the scale of single-use plastic as one of the world’s major pollution causes. Recycling is touted as a solution, yet less than 30% of plastic waste is recycled.
Photo: Bernard Kalu

“The picture shows our effort in fixing our declining climate. However, in line with this year’s theme #OnlyOneEarth — I’d hope measures towards tackling climate change are more widespread and robust going forward; because even though recycling is a decent way to handle plastic waste, a more potent action for example, would be passing policies against the production and usage of single use plastic and opting for more sustainable alternatives.”

Bernard Kalu

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