Prix Pictet

Short description

Images are key to help us understand the world, still sustainability issues are often approached in a visually simplistic. Prix Pictet is an interesting initiative that attempts to highlight photography in relation to sustainability. The idea is great, but the approach is unfortunately not as innovative as it could be. Some of the photos are good looking, but the initiative would benefit from a new generation of thinkers as the approach and selection reflect more of a 70’s approach to sustainability and not a 21st century approach.

This is how the initiative is described on the page:
Launched in 2008 by the Geneva-based private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet has rapidly established itself as the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability. It has a unique mandate – to use the power of photography to communicate vital messages to a global audience. The goal is to uncover art of the highest order, applied to confront the pressing social and environmental challenges of the new millennium.

The prize currently plays to a global audience of over 400 million. The exhibitions of photographs shortlisted for the first two cycles of the Prix Pictet have toured the world, so far they have been shown in Paris, Thessaloniki, Dubai, Hong Kong, Eindhoven, Dresden, Bonn, London, Berlin, Lausanne, Geneva, Dublin, Moscow, Milan, Madrid and New Delhi.

Today there is too much focus on “challenges” and too little on “opportunities”. Too much focus on areas that are threatened and too little on areas of significance, from ICT and nanotech to food habits and consumption. It would also be good if the initiative could allow some of the main pictures to be used, and be rated by the users. If not this initiative could become irrelevant as people could access Flickr to become inspired and download inspirational images.

More information about the initiative here.

The best with the app/supporting initiative

+ Encourage a group that not usually engage in important issues in society, photographers, to be active and portray important issues.
+ Allow groups working with important issues to be inspired by striking images.

The weak parts of the app/supporting initiative

- Too much focus on “challenges” and too little on “opportunities”.
- Too much focus on areas that are threatened and too little on areas of significance, from ICT and nanotech to food habits and consumption.
- No way for users to submit, rate or comment the images.
- No way to download and use inspirational images for “free” (e.g. using creative commons)

What could accelerate this app/supporting initiative into a world changer?

> Also include a solution perspective to move away from the traditional pollution perspective.
> Include a new generation of change-makers that can help bring a fresh perspective to the selection of pictures.
> Open up for more active participation though submissions, rating and comments.
> Ensure participation from different parts of the world, including dialogues in different parts of China, India, Africa, Latin American, South East Asia and the Arab world.
> Allow for non-profit use of the pictures.
> Encourage images of more complex challenges and solutions. The most important energy challenge is to develop system solutions (not the supply side solutions/problems that almost always dominate images today) and photographers seem to have difficulties to move beyond the simplicity that also influence policy making.


How direct is the delivery of the result the app tries to achieve
  • Direct
  • Indirect
  • Inspirational
  • Long shot


Images alone will not change anything, but they can be much more important than we usually think.

Transformative approach

How transformative is it
  • A new world
  • A major shift
  • A bit of a shake-up
  • A gentle rocking


In a situation where so much of the work to make the world a better place is focused on producing another report and arranging another conference/seminar/workshop a shift to images that change the way we view the world is refreshing for the sustainability work.

How much does it encourage collaborations

How much are new networks supported
  • Strong support for global networks?
  • Currently encourages new forms of collaboration
  • Provides interesting opportunities in the future
  • Restricted to a small (expert) group


Not much at all in the current format.

What synergies can be delivered

How well does it also solve other problems/generate solutions
  • It solves everything
  • Several important challenges
  • Some important challenges
  • Only one challenge


Images are interesting as they can illustrate multiple aspects.

Nine billion contribution

How global is it? Is it helping/will it help everyone on the planet
  • Instant global equality
  • Almost global
  • Getting (incrementally) global
  • Not applicable


Not much in the current approach that help guide, support focus on solutions that help the poor. This is mainly due to the focus on problems rather that solutions.

Building on current trends

How well does it use current trends
  • The app is setting new trends by itself
  • Building on multiple trends
  • Effectively building on one trend
  • Not really building on any major trend


The role of images will increase and how society view key challenges will be influenced by iconic images.


How fast can it deliver
  • It's already happening
  • In the coming weeks
  • In a year or so
  • In a distant future (hopefully)


Images are interesting, they can contribute to slow changes over time, or rapid shifts in perception.


Does it support transformative transparency
  • Brave new transparency
  • Transparency that is innovative (never seen before)
  • Increased transparency, but nothing innovative
  • No increase in transparency


The opportunity for almost anyone to capture images is already changing the power balance between different stakeholders. It is no loner possible for any government or company to control the images that circulate in society.

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