First edition of the Syngenta Photography Award: Rural-Urban

In its first edition 2012/2013 the theme of the Syngenta Photography Award was Rural-Urban, exploring the relationship and tensions between rural and urban environments. The award attracted over 450 submissions to the Professional Commission. For the Open Competition more than 2,000 entrants submitted their photographs.

The theme of the first edition: Rural-Urban

Over half of the world's population now lives in urban spaces, yet rural areas provide the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. With competition for land, natural resources and labor increasing, balancing these tensions is critical.

At the turn of the 20th century the rural population outnumbered the urban by 7 to 1.* Since then, there has been rapid urbanization and in 2007 the world's urban population crossed a watershed and exceeded the rural. The UN estimates that by 2050, over 6 billion people, two thirds of humanity, will be living in cities.**

How will these changes affect individuals and the communities they live in? What are the changing roles that people play in this shifting landscape? What are the pressures on natural resources? Is this relationship symbiotic or in competition and do the environmental constraints of water shortage and limited fertile land forever put into question the rural-urban dynamic?

As urban dwellers get further away from where their food is grown, do they lose sight of how sustainable farming operates? Is a city dweller's relationship with food consistent with his or her rural counterpart? If not, are unrealistic demands being placed on the rural food producers?

How will this ever changing landscape impact overall global food security?

Cities need water for people to drink and to support sanitary services. Rural areas need water to grow crops to feed the expanding cities. Is there enough for both? What role will technology play? What role will society allow technology to play?

In developed countries, cheap and abundant food has been a given. Do urban dwellers really understand where their food comes from, do they care?

The Syngenta Photography Award invites photographers to interpret these questions and their own concerning these issues in the broadest sense to stimulate dialogue about our changing planet through photography.

*The Royal Society; Biological Sciences, "Urbanization and its implications for food and farming", 2010
**United Nations: "Human Settlements",