Photographer of the Year; Seeds of Resistance by Pablo Albarenga
In 2017, at least 207 leaders and environmentalists were killed while protecting their communities from mining, agribusiness and other projects threatening their territories. According to a 2018 report by Global Witness, most of these cases occurred in Brazil with 57 assassinations being recorded, of which 80% were against people defending the Amazon. While the statistics expose an alarming situation, they fail to provide detailed information about the stories and people behind these figures, nor about the struggles they still face.
Despite being immersed in such a violent situation, indigenous and traditional populations refuse to abandon their land, even when it has been completely destroyed. The reason for this stoicism lies in their unique bond to their territories - this land is their life-support system, a sacred area in which hundreds of generations of their ancestors rest.
Seeds of Resistance is a project that seeks to explore the bond between the land defenders and the territories they inhabit, in a single image. By using aerial footage, the main characters in the stories are seen from above, as though they are laying down their lives for their territory. Then, a second image is shot from a much higher altitude to show their land and reveal, where possible, the threats they face.
Some of these images were possible thanks to Rainforest Defenders, a project by DemocraciaAbierta (OpenDemocracy) supported by the Rainforest Journalism Fund, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center.