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The Prix Pictet is the world's first prize dedicated to photography and sustainability. The highly esteemed entrants must be nominated. And with nearly 70 nominees from five continents, the final image collection has a liberal scope reflecting the contest's pressing mission. This year's contest, themed "Earth," is currently under way. Last year's winning images and notable nominees have been published by teNeues in a book called water.

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In last year's water-themed contest, Canadian photojournalist Benoit Aquin received the award for his startling series on Chinese desertification. It's the very lack of water that concerns him. From glacial melt to unsustainable irrigation to freakish flash floods, the 2008 collection reminds us of nature's merciless indifference — but also of its ultimate vulnerability to human behavior.

A booming population on a planet of limited resources poses many questions and concerns, the most pressing being, can we sustain it? Kofi Annan, the Prix Pictet's honorary president said, "It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action. The images submitted for the Prix Pictet confront us with the scale of the threat we face and they act to inspire governments, businesses — and all of us as individuals — to step up to the challenge and support change for a sustainable world."

Have a look at some of last year's notable nominees.
All images (c) courtesy of the Prix Pictet Ltd., via water, published by teNeues Publishing Group