Inequality and Climate Change: The Double Threat to Life on Earth

28 Jul 2019 OUTDOORS
Photo credit: Ami Vitale

Featuring: Solmaz Daryani, Felipe Fittipaldi, Josh Haner, Johnny Miller,
Hannah Reyes Morales, Muhammed Muheisen, Ami Vitale

Presented by

United Nations Development Programme


The twin threats of climate change and rising inequality are challenging and unprecedented obstacles for our world, and they are deeply entwined. While almost no one will be immune to the increasingly savage effects of a warming planet, it’s the poor who are going to suffer most.

Inequality is a paradox of our times; in recent decades innovation has exploded, poverty has gone down, and emerging markets are booming. Yet, we still see widening and unprecedented gaps between the haves and have nots.

These glaring discrepancies are not only unfair, they are dangerous. They undermine our political systems, human rights, peace and security, and a sustainable future.

Inequality has been a powerful accomplice in climate change. It is a cruel irony that the poorest, who have done the least to warm the planet, suffer first–and the most, from the consequences. They are losing their culture, history, homes, land, incomes, health, and education.

These photographers are bearing witness to our warming–and increasingly unequal–planet. They hold a mirror up to the two threats that we urgently need to recognize and address–if we are to survive and create a sustainable future.

Thumbnail photo credit: Solmaz Daryani

Make sure to also check out related Talk Documenting Inequality and Climate Change: The Double Threat to Life on Earth, moderated by Sameera Savarala.


Solmaz Daryani is a self-taught Iranian documentary photographer. In 2015, she received the IdeasTap and Magnum Foundation grants for The Eyes of Earth, an investigation into the environmental and human impact of the drying of Lake Urmia.

Felipe Fittipaldi is a Brazilian photographer based in Rio de Janeiro. He contributes to publications such as The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, El PaĂ­s, and The Nature Conservancy.

Josh Haner is a staff photographer and a senior editor at The New York Times. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo essay on a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings. For the past four years he has focused his work on documenting climate change.

Johnny Miller is a photographer based in Cape Town. He specializes in issues of urbanization, development, and infrastructure. He is the co-founder of africanDRONE, and a Senior Atlantic Fellow at the London School of Economics.

Hannah Reyes Morales is a Filipina photographer and National Geographic Explorer. In 2019 she received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award, and was selected by World Press Photo for the Joop Swart Masterclass.

Muhammed Muheisen is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, a National Geographic photographer, founder of Everyday Refugees Foundation, Global Ambassador for Jordan Tourism Board, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Canon. For over a decade he has been documenting the refugee crisis around the world.

Ami Vitale is a Nikon Ambassador, National Geographic magazine photographer, and a five-time World Press Photo award recipient. She began her career in war zones and today works on the most compelling environmental stories of our time, where individuals are making a profound difference in the future of this planet.


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with communities, governments, and the private sector to fight poverty and inequality around the world, and to protect the planet. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we strive to empower communities and help build nations that can withstand crisis and disasters, sustain peace, and improve the quality of life for everyone.

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