10 Incredible Photos That Inspired Millions to Take Action
10 Incredible Photos That Inspired Millions to Take Action
By Sudhanshu Malhotra / medium.com
Sep 7, 2016

It’s a tough call to select 10 images from the more than 18,000 that Greenpeace has produced in the last 12 months. But this selection gave me a chance to look back at the amazing work that’s happening across the world.

These are not the most beautiful images, but they represent the diversity of the movement. They are a testimony to the courage and willingness of people power to fight for a better future. They define the role of photography in activism. They have the power to transfer the energy and emotions to its audiences; to tell a story that is untold or an event that cannot be put in words.

We have images from Indigenous communities in the Amazon to coral reefs in Australia, from forest fires in Indonesia to inspiring protests by grandparents in Japan. This was also the year when world leaders finally agreed to take steps towards controlling climate change after thousands of people marched across cities around the world to break free from fossil fuels.


The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. The Brazilian government had planned to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life. In addition to preserving their way of life, the demarcation of Sawré Muybu ensures the conservation of 178,000 hectares of Amazonian rainforest. Find out more here.

People hold hands on a beach in Molyvos, Lesbos, calling for safe passage and no more deaths. The activity was held in solidarity with other protests across Europe, as thousands of people in more than 100 cities marched in support of refugee rights. Find out more here.

As the Paris climate conference entered the closing stretch, Greenpeace activists created a solar symbol around the world-famous Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe. Activists painted the road yellow with a non-polluting water-based paint to reveal the image of a huge shining sun.

This image reminded people, but especially politicians and governments that whatever they agreed, the only credible way to beat climate change is to quickly transition to renewable energy.

Drone footage revealed the impact of repeated fires on the forest near the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in West Kalimantan, Indoneesia. Plantation for palm oil are one of the biggest drivers of deforestation and peatland draining — a practise that can lead to forest fires.

Aerial view of a FAD (fish aggregating device) at night. Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, was in the Indian Ocean to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices.

Albacore tuna is stacked and weighed before being shipped for processing into canned tuna. Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Rainbow, spent month in the Pacific Ocean in 2015 to expose illegal and undocumented fishing operation.Tuna fishing has been linked to shark finning, overfishing, and human rights abuses.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer temperature of the waters brought about by the El Nino system.

Parts of the reef have been damaged by cyclones, the severity, and frequency of which will also increase as global temperatures rise.

A US military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa has been a source of conflict for decades. The expansion of one base will wipe out the seagrass bed which is home to the few remaining Japanese dugong.

The vast majority of the local community are against the expansion of the military bases. In this image taken from protests in 2015, police carried elderly protesters away from the entrance of Camp Schwab. Many of the protestors are elderly people who try to block the entrance using their bodies. Find out more here.

A protester wears a farmer’s hat with the words “Break Free” during a protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thousands of people took to the streets in a carnival atmosphere to urge the government to end Indonesia’s addiction to coal.

The demonstration was organised by WALHI, Greenpeace Indonesia, and JATAM. The marchers carried banners calling for Indonesia to reject coal in favour of clean renewable energy, and to honour, the commitment made in the Paris Agreement last year to reduce the country’s carbon emissions.

Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs one of his own compositions on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway).

The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by eight million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi, the grand piano, and eight million voices to Svalbard. Greenpeace was urging the OSPAR Commission that meets that week in Tenerife, not to miss the opportunity to protect international Arctic waters under its mandate. Find out more here.


Sudhanshu Malhotra is the Multimedia Editor for Asia Pacific, based in Greenpeace East Asia

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10 Incredible Photos That Inspired Millions to Take Action