In a culmination of artistic brilliance and environmental consciousness, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Environmental Photography Award has concluded its third edition, bestowing the prestigious title of Environmental Photographer of the Year 2023 upon the gifted Dutch photographer, Jasper Doest. Recognized for his exceptional talent and dedication to capturing the essence of our fragile planet, Doest’s remarkable achievement comes with a multitude of rewards.
As the newly crowned Environmental Photographer of the Year, Doest will not only receive the revered accolade but also be granted a generous sum of €5,000/$5,458. Additionally, an extraordinary opportunity awaits him—a visit to the renowned University of Ecuador’s Amazon Research Station, nestled amidst the enchanting depths of the Ecuadorian jungle. Furthermore, an invitation to grace the illustrious awards ceremony in Monaco further validates the significance of his achievement.
The winning image that propelled Doest to this extraordinary triumph bears the poignant title “Fight to the Death.” Within its captivating frame, a heart-wrenching scene unfolds—a resolute elephant battles for survival following a harrowing encounter with a freight train in Gabon Lopé National Park. Tragically, the elephant depicted in the photograph succumbed to a broken hip, yet its demise was not in vain, for its flesh was thoughtfully distributed among the local community of the park. The image, undeniably gruesome yet powerfully evocative, emphasizes the devastating impact of human infrastructure on the natural world, warranting its recognition as the victor in the human versus nature category. Doest hopes that by presenting this haunting visual narrative, it will ignite a spark of conversation within viewers, compelling them to assume responsibility for safeguarding our planet’s precious ecosystems.
This year’s competition got an overwhelming response. 2,300 photographers from all over the world submitted an astounding collection of 10,000 images. These submissions underwent meticulous scrutiny by a revered panel of professional photographers, whose discerning eyes carefully evaluated each entry across five distinctive categories: Polar Wonders, Into the Forest, Ocean Worlds, Humanity Versus Nature, and Change Makers: Reasons for Hope. Complementing these categories were two additional layers of recognition—a Public Award, decided by the votes of over 5,000 individuals, and a Students’ Award, entrusted to the discerning judgment of high school students in Monaco. Collectively, these accolades awarded a combined prize fund of €11,000 (approximately $12,007) to the deserving recipients.
Within the tapestry of remarkable images that adorned the competition, a myriad of captivating narratives emerged. In the “Agents of change, bearers of hope” category, the poignant photograph portrayed the relocation of elephants from Liwonde National Park to Kasungu National Park in Malawi. Under the watchful guidance of conservation specialists, the elephants were cautiously sedated, lifted onto trucks with the aid of cranes, and awakened during the ensuing journey—a practice that may seem jarring, yet remains a customary method for their transportation. The “Marine Worlds” category showcased the Espiritu Santo National Park in Mexico, where California sea lions relished the sanctuary provided by its no-fishing zone, offering a rich abundance of sustenance and fostering a stable population. However, lurking amidst this idyllic haven, the looming threat of climate change demands our unwavering attention. Amidst the “In the heart of the forest” category, the photographer captured a breathtaking vista—a snowstorm unfolding amidst the lofty peaks of the Himalayas at an altitude of 4,267 meters. Serendipitously, a mesmerizing flock of Grandala birds soared through the landscape, their synchronized flight, known as “murmuration,” offering an awe-inspiring spectacle. Lastly, the “Polar Wonders” category showcased an image of a diminutive benthic hydromedusa, measuring less than a centimeter in bell diameter. This enigmatic and lesser-known gelatinous organism thrives in the depths of polar or deep waters, encapsulating the captivating wonders that dwell within these frigid realms.
In addition to the five distinguished categories and the People’s Choice Award, the Prix des Lycéens (High School Students’ Award) bestowed the power of judgment upon the students, courtesy of the collaborative efforts between the competition and the National Education, Youth, and Sports department. The captivating allure of Iceland’s natural splendor captivated the hearts of Monaco’s high school students, with the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the country’s fourth-largest ice cap, enchanting them with its ephemeral caves and surreal landscapes.
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s Environmental Photography Award stands as a testament to the invaluable role that art and awareness play in nurturing our collective responsibility towards the environment. Through the lens of these remarkable photographers, the profound beauty and vulnerability of our planet are etched into our consciousness, compelling us to safeguard its splendor for generations to come.