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