There has been much talk about climate change. But not much about where we will see its first impact: water.

Flooding. Drought. Contamination. Water is the vector of climate change. By 2010 an estimated 40 per cent of the world's poorest people will lack access to clean water. Two hundred million may be physically or economically displaced.

This is not the future. This is now.

The Prix Pictet is a major new global prize in photography that focuses on one of the greatest single issues of the twenty-first century: sustainability. With a single annual prize of CHF 100,000 ($86,000 USD), the Prix Pictet will reward photographers and the images they use to tell stories of urgent global significance. Each year the Prix Pictet will focus on a distinct sustainability theme.

The theme for 2008 is water.Entry to the Prix Pictet is by nomination. A global nominations panel of 49 leading experts in the visual arts, from six continents, has made over 200 nominations from 43 countries. The independent jury of the Prix Pictet has shortlisted 18 photographers who have produced works that are of outstanding artistic merit and communicate messages of urgent global significance.

The finalists are:

Benoit Aquin
Edward Burtynsky
Jesus Abad Colorado
Thomas Joshua Cooper
Sebastian Copeland
Christian Cravo
Lynn Davis
Reza Deghati
Susan Derges
Malcolm Hutcheson
Chris Jordan
Carl De Keyzer
David Maisel
Mary Mattingly
Robert Polidori
Roman Signer
Jules Spinatsch
Munem Wasif

Short-listed images will be exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, from 30 October - 8 November 2008. The winner of the Prix Pictet will be announced on 30 October 2008 at the Palais de Tokyo.

Lens Culture is pleased to show a preview from each of the 18 shortlisted photographers.

We are especially happy to note that three of the finalists have appeared earlier here in Lens Culture, and have contributed insightful audio interviews about their important work. You can listen to these interviews here in the Lens Culture archives:

David Maisel
Edward Burtynsky
Jules Spinatsch

Cheers to everyone who has participated in this noble venture.