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In September a new United Nations initiative launches outlining 17 areas in which governments and other institutions can and should work to improve the lives of people around the world. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were launched in 2000 and encompassed 8 aims to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged. In 2005, Panos Pictures, a London based documentary photo agency covering global social issues, produced a photographic exhibition called "Eight Ways to Change the World" illustrating the issues addressed by the MDGs. Since then, Panos photographers have continued to cover subjects relating to development issues and sustainability.

Their approaches and styles are as diverse as the multiple challenges facing our world today - from poverty eradication and female empowerment to urban improvement and protection of ecosystems. Working in different regions and with varying approaches, Panos photographers continue to seek out stories and attempt to interpret rather than merely record them. With years of experience and an unparalleled awareness of the sensitivities of the issues they cover, Panos photographers continue to impart their interpretations of pressing issues through their images. This exhibition presents five very different stories covering development issues.

Looking at one of the most urgent calls to action in the SDGs, Vlad Sokhin is travelling the length and breadth of the Pacific Ocean, documenting the effects of climate change and global warming on the natural environment and the communities of the region. From Kiribati, where thousands of people have become the first “climate change refugees” due to rising sea levels to Vanuatu, where extreme weather conditions are increasingly threatening the fragile infrastructure of island communities, climate change is an issue that has become a daily reality for many.

Focusing on resource management and poverty reduction, James Morgan travelled to Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats which are thought to contain almost half of the world’s lithium reserves, a vital and potentially highly profitable component of batteries used in anything from mobile phones to electric cars. Bolivia’s left-leaning president Evo Morales plans to have a state-run company extract some of the lithium and produce batteries in-country, thus maximising profits which are to be used for poverty reduction in South America’s poorest country.

Illustrating the issues of sustainable agriculture, protection of ecosystems and the promotion of biodiversity, Ian Teh visited south-western Java where one region is farming rice, the country’s dominant staple, with ancestral seed and traditional methods in the face of an intensively farmed, genetically modified rice monoculture that has overwhelmed other parts of the country. The establishment of a seedbank to safeguard the 68 local varieties of rice points the way in local initiatives to preserve diversity.

Robin Hammond visited Somaliland, a forgotten self-declared statelet on the Horn of Africa which is making the most of its proximity to Saudi Arabia and the millions of pilgrims who gather in Mecca every year to export over 1 million live goats and sheep. For a country with a strong tradition of herding and few other economic assets, Somaliland is playing to its strength and establishing a reliable and profitable outlet for one of its few exportable commodities.

As people continue to gravitate toward the cities which in turn continue to grow as never before, Brian Sokol discovered the unlikely “Robocops” on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Part traffic light, part cartoon robot, these 8 foot tall contraptions have revolutionised traffic management in notoriously gridlocked Kinshasa, working 24/7, 365 days a year.

Achieving sustainable development and tackling inequality is a complex task, but it is one in which we all have a role to play. Join us in engaging with, supporting and acting for social change!

WARM WATERS, Vlad Sokhin

Vlad Sokhin, Panos Pictures.

Peia Kararaua, 16, swims in the flooded area of Aberao village. Kiribati is one of the countries most affected by sea level rise. During high tides many villages become inundated making large parts of them uninhabitable.

Travelling around the countries and territories of the Pacific Ocean – from Alaska to New Zealand – photographer Vlad Sokhin looks at the effects of Climate Change and Global Warming on the natural environment and communities living across the region. From rising sea levels in Kiribati threatening to inundate the low lying atolls to deforestation in Papua New Guinea and extreme weather events in Vanuatu, the region is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten the very existence of certain communities. The way some of the smaller island nations and coastal communities around the Pacific will respond to these challenges may also be a litmus test for how other regions will cope with impending environmental changes.

Vlad Sokhin, Panos Pictures.

Children playing 'hide and seek' in a graveyard in Tenoe, Tuvalu. Massive coastal erosion in Tuvalu, an island in the Pacific caused many coconut trees to fall down, and the sea has eaten its way into and around the trees that are still standing. People from Teone are threatened on one side by the ocean and its tide surges and on the other by a pit that fills with salt water at high tide due the soil salinisation.

'Cemeteries along the coastline are being affected' says Kaminga Kaminga, a climate change negotiator for the Marshall Islands. 'Gravesites are falling into the sea. Even in death we're affected.' In June 2014 rising sea levels washed out the remains of at least 26 Japanese WWII soldiers on Santo Island in the Marshall Islands.

Vlad Sokhin, Panos Pictures.

The coastline of Kiribati, one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is plagued by sea level rises, coastal erosion, soil salinisation and extreme weather events. Villages are regularly flooded during high tides despite residents attempts to build sea walls or take care of those that were built by the local government, but frequent big waves continue to damage them, putting resident's houses, and gardens under the constant threat. Climate change scientists' worst predictions are that the country might disappear beneath the sea within decades. The Kiribati government has already purchased a tract of land in Fiji in case the 110,000 population has to move wholesale.

Vlad Sokhin, Panos Pictures.

Dead coconut trees in an area of land whose soils have become increasingly eroded and salinated by the regular flooding that occurs during high tides. Abaiang is one of Kiribati's atolls that is most threatened by rising sea levels. Most of the atolls that make up Kiribati are elevated less than a metre or two above the sea level. The country's government says Tebunginako in Abaiang is a 'barometer for what Kiribati can expect in the future'. Since the 1970s the village's residents have seen the sea levels rise and eventually erosion has meant that a major part of the village has had to be abandoned and most of the village's residents have had to relocate their houses.

POWERING AHEAD, James Morgan

James Morgan, Panos Pictures.

A worker at the lithium extraction facility traverses a raised causeway that cuts through the shallow surface water, 14km into Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni salt flat. The causeway provides access to the lithium processing plant, which extracts the valuable element from the mineral rich brine contained beneath the crust. Bolivia’s vast salt flats contain the greatest concentrations of lithium on earth – half of all global reserves according to some estimates. Lithium ion batteries power everything from smartphones to electric cars, and South America’s poorest country has bold ambitions to corner the market in 21st century energy storage. To do this, it aims to create its own lithium ion batteries by 2015, undercutting its corporate competitors to reap enormous profits from a projected L-ion boom.

James Morgan, Panos Pictures.

Bolivia's flag flies beside the Wiphala, the pan-Andean flag of the indigenous communities that live in the region. Below are the prefab units and Soviet era caravans that accommodate more than 150 people working in the lithium extraction plant. Hecho en Bolivia (Made in Bolivia) is a long-standing dream of this resource rich nation. Populist President Evo Morales is determined to buck current free market trends, eschewing typical foreign investment models in favour of a nationalised industry, which he believes will help lift 30% of the country’s population out of poverty.

A pilot plant in Rio Grande at the southern reaches of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt plain, is already producing lithium carbonate as well as valuable bi-products like potassium carbonate and cesium. A causeway with banks of crystallised salt cuts 14km into the Salar, through 5cm of aquamarine surface water. It feels like driving across the Caribbean Sea.

James Morgan, Panos Pictures.

Workers at a lithium extraction facility scale a ladder as they finish a shift working on one of the extraction pools (piscinas), a 2km lithium processing pool covered in black PVC to protect them. The lithium suspension cannot be allowed to interact with the salt of the Salar de Uyuni. Bolivian and Chilean workers do two week shifts, working 12 hours a day. They crawl like ants across 1000 square metre PVC-covered pools in which the lithium is processed by way of solar radiation and chemical processes. Seven are already producing, 10 more are under construction. A contract has been signed with Chinese battery component company Lin Yi Gelon to build a factory in Bolivia next year and negotiations are underway with a South Korean company to help build the cathodes.

A worker strides past huge deposits of potassium chloride awaiting purification at a lithium extraction facility. Behind them are the pools, each measuring one square kilometre, in which the lithium is extracted through a combination of solar radiation and chemical processes. Detractors claim that Bolivia lacks the expertise to effectively capitalise on its raw lithium wealth. But progress at the Rio Grande plant and the new contracts suggest that the pace is picking up after long delays. 'Now we’re at the industrialisation stage, we need to work with countries and businesses that are expert in lithium,' says Freddy Beltran Robles, Vice Minister for Mineral Development. 'For years, we’ve been a nation that simply extracts and sells its raw materials. We want to change that. We want to industrialise our resources.'

James Morgan, Panos Pictures.

PADDY POWER, Ian TeH

Ian Teh, Panos Pictures.

Women in Indonesia dehusking rice by hand. On average, Indonesians eat 130 kg per person yearly, over four times as much as the average Japanese. In addition to the 70 million tonnes the country is able to produce itself it imports another 1 million tonnes to make up the shortfall. Indonesia’s unique and excessive reliance on rice as the staple food for its 250 million people is a result of the “green revolution” engineered under the Suharto dictatorship from the 1970s to the 1990s which obliged farmers to use chemical fertiliser and imported hybrid seed, raising the yield to three harvests a year. Yet one region of southwest Java managed to escape the drive toward this monoculture, preserving farming traditions, eschewing fertiliser and only planting ancestral seed. Photographer Ian Teh documented the self-sufficient lifestyles of local farmers.

Ian Teh, Panos Pictures.

A man checks rice plants in a paddy field where different varieties of rice, their type labelled on the sign, are being grown as part of a project to protect and maintain traditional growing techniques.

Fortunately, the region of Sukabumi in the south west of Java did not fall prey to the Suharto regime policies of 'intensive monoculture' that only relied on a very a small variety of breeds. Particularly in the villages of Sinar Resmi and Cipta Gelar, situated high up on the slopes of the Halimun volcano, farming traditions have been preserved. For several generations, these farmers have planted ancestral seeds without any chemical fertilisers, and limited themselves to one harvest a year, a practice contrary to the three harvest done by other chemically 'enhanced' regions.

Ian Teh, Panos Pictures.

A farmer carrying hand made banana leaf coverings that are used to construct the top of roofs in the village. The villagers of this region live self-sufficiently using the forest and its resources to supplement their diet. Also in the Sukabumi region, a number of scientific research institutions are setting about trying to solve the dramatic, and potentially harmful, effects of this 'unique rice dictatorship' established in the previous century which continues to affect the environment and its biodiversity. In recent years a rice-seed bank has been establishing which is preserving samples of the 68 different local varieties previously in wide use, ensuring a legacy of biodiversity for the future.

Ian Teh, Panos Pictures.

In the afternoon a group of women from the village are preparing food in the communal kitchen. One of the Adat traditions is that everyone is welcome at the Imah Gede, and it is the custom that there is always food available to welcome guests at any time of the day. Hence the kitchen is always busy with villagers helping out to prepare food.

Indonesian have a multitude of words for 'rice' and even revere the 'goddess of the paddy fields', Dewi Sri, who is venerated from western Java all the way to the East on the island of Bali. The agricultural methods of the Sukambumi farmers is an art and a philosophy of life informed by their ancestral religion and numerous rituals, including one dedicated to the paddy field Goddess Dewi Sri. Today she has become an example and a model for the many natural earth and natural seeding defence movements.

ON THE HOOF, Robin Hammond

Robin Hammond, Panos Pictures.

A girl herding kid goats in the Sheikh Mountains between Burao and Berbera, Somaliland. The family sells their goats to traders who take the animals to Burao Livestock Market where they are purchased for export to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.

Somaliland, a self-declared independent state covering the northern third of Somalia, is not known as an economic powerhouse with the fourth lowest GDP in the world. Once a year, however, it becomes the scene of the biggest movement of livestock anywhere on the planet. During the annual Hajj, when millions of pilgrims converge on Islam's holy sites around 1.3 million sheep and goats are exported to Saudi Arabia. The fact that the animals have to arrive in Saudi Arabia alive gives Somaliland an economic advantage due to its proximity. Livestock herding is such an important part of Somali life and of Somaliland's economy and cattle and camels are exported all year round.

Robin Hammond, Panos Pictures.

The Burao Livestock Market, Somaliland’s largest animal market, where sheep and goats are brought from around the country by farmers and small traders. Many of the animals will then be taken to Berbera Port for export. Prices are usually negotiated by brokers on behalf of the buyers and sellers. They use a system of holding fingers to indicate the price they are willing to accept. Each finger represents a different number as does each knuckle. Negotiations are made in secret under a scarf that covers the hands of the brokers. The average selling price is between $75-90 for a sheep or goat depending on weight and how fat the animal is. On a busy day thousands of animals can be sold. Business women also come to the market to purchase animals for slaughter to sell in the local meat market. Over 50 percent of Somaliland's GDP is made up of livestock exports.

Robin Hammond, Panos Pictures.

Volume is of the essence when it comes to transporting the live cargo to Saudi Arabia and some boats can hold up to 85,000 head of livestock which are squeezed into pens with low ceilings to maximise storage below deck. The animals are quarantined, given ear tags for identification, vaccinated for various diseases and finally herded en masse onto ships. Having overtaken Australia in terms of volume of livestock export, Somalia as a whole now accounts for the largest on-the-hoof movement of live animals in the world. For a country as a whole, ravaged by over two decades of war, and for Somaliland in particular, the current boom in livestock export could give a significant boost to national reconstruction and economic recovery. Photographer Robin Hammond visited Somaliland's animal markets and the port of Berbera where he witnessed the biblical proportions of this thriving trade.

Robin Hammond, Panos Pictures.

Stockmen herd sheep and goats onto the Al-Baraka 5 in Berbera Port. The animals are bound for Saudi Arabia to feed pilgrims on the annual Hajj. The ship holds 84,879 sheep and goats. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that $250 million worth of animals will leave the port of Berbera and its more ramshackle rival, Bossaso, in the seven weeks before the Hajj. The livestock brokers pre-sell the animals to pilgrims heading to Mecca and the trade in livestock has become so profitable that herders refer to the animals as 'barrels of oil' that underpin the local economy. Berbera’s port authorities estimate that, in the high season leading up to Hajj, 1.3 million animals go through the port. The export of livestock through the two ports, and nearby Djibouti, represents the largest movement of live animals (‘on the hoof’) for trade anywhere in the world.

ROBOCOP, Brian Sokol

Brian Sokol, Panos Pictures.

An 8 foot tall humanoid traffic robot equipped with a rotating chest and video cameras controls and monitors traffic on a busy road in Kinshasa, DRC. Built by Women's Tech, a small enterprise started by Therese Kirongozi, a local entrepreneur, the humanoid traffic robots are intended to blend the functions of traffic lights with human traffic police officers to control and monitor traffic flow. Each hand on the odd-looking machines - built to withstand the year-round hot climate - is fitted with green and red lights that regulate the flow of traffic in the sprawling city of nine million. The robots are also equipped with rotating chests and surveillance cameras that record the flow of traffic and send real-time images to the police station. Although the humanoids look more like giant toys than real policemen, motorists have given them a thumbs-up.

Brian Sokol, Panos Pictures.

Therese Korongozi, owner of start-up Women's Tech, sits next to parts of the traffic robots her company produces in the workshop behind a restaurant which she owns. She has set up Women’s Tech as a Congolese association of women engineers. Women's Tech, a local enterprise, manufactures humanoid traffic robots that are intended to blend the functions of traffic lights with human traffic police officers to control and monitor traffic flow. They are solar powered, equipped with green and red lights and can play pre-recorded messages to pedestrians to let them know when it's safe to cross the street. They also have in-built video cameras which convey footage back to a central office where it is evaluated and used to enhance traffic flow in the city.

Brian Sokol, Panos Pictures.

A crowd of commuters at Kinshasa East railway station, Democratic Republic of Congo. Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people, is one of two megacities in sub-Saharan Africa and has been facing increasingly gridlocked traffic as car ownership rises and urban planning is almost inexistent. The UN projects that the population will double to 20 million by 2030, with the city's alarmingly fast growth is happening largely in its isolated periphery. The Future of Cities photography project explores how cities around the world are evolving and coping with the large-scale migrations of people from suburban and rural areas into urban environments. With seventy-five percent of the global population projected to be living in cities by the middle of this century, Panos photographers have begun examining this change through topics such as urban farming, eco-housing, technological innovations, elastic environments, children at play, green spaces, economic divides and much more.

Brian Sokol, Panos Pictures.

The 'head' and 'eyes' of one of the humanoid traffic robots made at the Women's Tech workshop in Kinshasa, DRC. The eyes consist of small cameras and the head is made out of bonded plates of aluminum. Instability and mismanagement mean that infrastructure projects are behind schedule while increasing numbers of people continue to hit the gridlocked streets. A creative collaboration between the city authorities and Therese Korongozi, a local entrepreneur and owner of Women’s Tech, has come up with an unlikely solution. Part traffic light, part cartoon robot, the 8 foot tall so-called “Robocop” is an innovative solar powered traffic regulator which is now found across the city. It gives recorded instructions to pedestrians and regulates motorised transport. The machines work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and crucially don’t take bribes from Kinshasa’s corruption-weary inhabitants.

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