Meet the winners of the WIPO Photography Prize for Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Youth 2021-2022
April 22, 2022
Young photographers from Brazil, the Philippines and Kenya are the three winners of the inaugural WIPO Photography Prize for Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Youth 2021-2022.
Themed Climate Change and Climate Action: Mother Earth through our Lenses, the WIPO Photography Prize encourages Indigenous and local community youth to express themselves on climate change and climate action – while raising their awareness on how copyright can be used to protect their creativity expressed in the photographs.
Young people have the greatest stake in the future of our planet, which is why I am pleased that the first-ever WIPO Photography Prize is providing young members of indigenous and local communities with an opportunity to express themselves through photography on the climate crisis and other related challenges they are facing. These young creators, whose work is protected by copyright, can use the full power of photography to better express their concerns about the world and share best practices in their communities.
– Daren Tang, Director General, WIPO
Among the hundreds of applications received, a total of 30 photos entered the final stage of the competition. An independent panel of judges constituted by four international indigenous and local community photographers selected three winners for the awards to be delivered during an event at WIPO to celebrate International Mother Earth Day (April 22).
Third place: Verine Ogutu, Luo (Kenya)
Verine Ogutu, 24, is a young woman from the Luo community in Kenya. She is an undergraduate communications student and a photography enthusiast.
Verine’s photo features two buffaloes stuck in the mud of a water pan they used as a watering hole. As Verine explained, the recent drought in parts of Northern Kenya is negatively affecting both wild and domestic animals which must travel farther in search of sustenance.
However, Verine’s community is not giving up. “We have learned rain patterns and started planting drought-resistant plants that endure harsh climatic conditions. This provides fodder to domestic animals and also acts as forest cover. We also plant trees that attract rainfall”.
Verine hopes that her picture will help other people around the globe to understand the importance of wildlife to her community. “All over the world, we are affected by climate change in one way or another. Do anything you can to preserve Mother Earth, since it is the only place we call home”.
As the third winner, Verine wins photography equipment of her choice with a value of up to 1,500 U.S. Dollars.
Second place: Prince Loyd Besorio, Subanen (the Philippines)
Prince Loyd Besorio, 22, is a young Subanen leader from the Philippines. He is a journalist, volunteer, photojournalist and content creator. Prince is passionate about the ocean and describes himself as “a thalassophile but a land-thriving mermaid”. Prince and his community are concerned about water and ocean pollution that they witness daily living next to the sea. “I guess it’s my time first to solve this micro-issue that my community experiences before I could help solve the environmental macro-issue of the world which is irresponsibility and apathy”.
His photograph shows a tradition of a Sama Bajaus group in the Philippines of the creation of new items from human refuse, with a view to benefiting environmental preservation. In the photo, a Sama Bajaus girl is cutting recycled plastic trash into strips to make an ornamental pillow. “My photo depicts Sama Bajau’s empathy towards the ocean environment. They are firm believers in sea spirits, that if you pay respect to the ocean, it will provide you abundance in fishing called padalleang”, he explains.
Speaking about the Subanen, Prince says they interpret climate change as the punishment sent by Magbabaya (Supreme Being) because of the community’s failure to perform their roles as good stewards of natural resources. Nonetheless, even though they live in a low-carbon traditional way, the climate crisis still negatively affects Prince’s community because of its close connection with nature.
With second place, Prince wins photography equipment of his choice with a value of up to 2,500 U.S. Dollars.
First place: Joanderson Gomes de Almeida, Pankararu (Brazil)
Joanderson Gomes de Almeida, 30, is an indigenous Pankararu from the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. Joanderson is currently completing a master’s course at the University of Brasília.
The Pankararu people have a very strong characteristic of preserving indigenous culture and traditions, Joanderson says. Unfortunately, his community is heavily punished by periods without rain and drought, which makes it difficult to carry out traditional agricultural activities.
His photograph shows a tradition called the Pulling of the Vine, which is a part of the Corrida do Imbu festival. The tradition helps to predict whether the coming year will be one of good harvests, abundance and good rains, or it will be a meagre year. “At that moment, the cosmological beings give us the way, the orientation of what the climate will be like during that period,” Joanderson explains. The tradition also makes each member of the community reflect upon what could have been done differently, and how they can improve their attitude toward Mother Nature.
Joanderson’s message to innovators around the globe is to become partners with indigenous peoples as “[their] relationship with nature is one of respect and not mercantile, because it is from the land that we take our food in a conscious and sustainable way.”
“There is still a solution for our planet,” he says.
With the first place, Joanderson wins photography equipment of his choice with a value up to 3,500 U.S. Dollars.
Honorable mentions from the Jury
“My picture shows a mangrove plant that had been withstanding rising sea levels”, says Jovi Totorea, a young Solomon Islander from the Hauhui Village Community. “Mangrove has a potential to mitigate sea level rise caused by climate change and act as a biological barrier from strong winds to low lying communities. Therefore, mangrove restoration is a better option for my local community to mitigate the effects of climate change”.
Mery Nube Utitiaj Nunink, a young Shuar woman from Ecuador, captured two kids playing in the water. According to Mery, either lacking awareness or simply not being heard, people from her community abandon the fight against reality, choosing to accept and adapt to the changes. “That is the meaning behind this photograph: the bottle and the tube are the problem; the smiles of the children show them adapting to and dealing patiently and harmoniously with their situation,” she explains.
Photography Exhibition at the WIPO Headquarters
Starting today, the thirty shortlisted photographs are being exhibited at the WIPO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The photography exhibition is open to our staff and guests until May 6, 2022.
The WIPO Director General Daren Tang officially announced the winners at the opening ceremony of the exhibition that took place today.
The Photography Prize was launched on August 12, 2021, as part of the celebration of International Youth Day. This activity was designed in consultation with an Advisory Board comprised by Indigenous peoples and local communities representatives, including youth, and organizations, governments and individuals working on climate change, biodiversity, photography, intellectual property, media and entrepreneurship.
Due to their close relationship with the environment and its resources and dependence upon them, Indigenous and local communities are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, such as increased drought, loss of biological diversity, poverty and displacement, hotter temperatures and the rising level of oceans, among many other. In the meantime, these communities are the key holders of traditional knowledge, which can play an important role in assessing the impact of climate change and promoting climate change adaptation. In recent years, the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in mitigating the impact of climate change has been recognized in a number of public discussions on local, national and international levels.