After an infamously stagnant yet biting 2020, this year saw surges of all kinds: Sports fans rushed to Tokyo for the Olympics and London for the European Cup. Concerts and cultural events were back. Wildfires, volcanos, floods and tornadoes covered headlines. Covid-19 cases along with vaccine rollouts surged as variants of the virus emerged. With currently the most refugees worldwide since World War II according to the UNHCR, there were new waves this year, many of which coming from Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Mexico. Thousands are stuck at the U.S. – Mexico border as well as the border between Belarus and Poland, while boats continue to appear on Europe’s shores with a devastating record 27 migrants who drowned in the English Channel in November.
Social movements picked up after a year of restrictions from anti-vaccine protests worldwide, Pro-Democracy demands in places like Hong Kong, Myanmar and Thailand, and abortion rights in The United States and Poland. Rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC, gay pride parades returned and the Black Lives Matter movement had a short moment of victory upon the sentencing of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. Climate change activism saw a surge with Greta Thunberg as the leading figure and COP26 as the cherry on top. Solidarity-protests for Palestine, Afghanistan, Cuba and Myanmar, anti-corruption in Eastern Europe and a rise in right-wing movements, were all part of the 2021 spectacle.
2021 was also eventful for democracy. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took office in the United States after four years of Donald Trump, while Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was replaced by Olaf Scholz and a liberal coalition after her 16-year run. Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi was recently sentenced to prison as the military coup has shaken the country. Hong Kong begins a new reality under China after being autonomous since 1997. Chile is undergoing the most revolutionary elections since Pinochet with a new draft of its constitution underway. Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party won this year’s elections yet again in his 22nd year in power, with a rising opposition and Alexy Navalny’s imprisonment furthering a rift in Russia’s political stability.
IMAGO being home to the daily influx of photos from across the globe documenting the moments and people that shape our current climate, take a look at some of the shots that stood out from the bunch.