Francois Pesant

This photo is from Climate Refugees, a personal project of photographer François Pesant. He spent four months in India chronicling the displacement of people as a result of climatically induced environmental disasters, in particular desertification in northern India.
Following publication in a magazine, the photos were exhibited in Montreal. Sonia Labranche, a young lawyer, contacted François after her visit to say that she was reorienting her career and pursuing a Master’s thesis on climate refugees. She completed fieldwork in Bangladesh among those who had to flee rising seas. Currently living in Asia, she’s now planning to do her Ph.D. on the subject. “The exhibition was
a huge triggering factor in my life,” says Sonia, “and, in fact, has impacted the rest of my life.”
There are between 30 million and 40 million forced migrants on the planet; according to experts, their number will rise to 250 million by 2050. They are not entitled to any rights, protection or assistance because they have no legal status. “Sonia’s work may have a positive effect on the lives of environmental refugees around the world who need lawyers and researchers to influence policymakers to improve their plight,” says François. “Amazing to think that images could lead to that.”

François Pesant is a freelance photographer with a marked interest in human rights and environmental issues. During a B.A. in Sociology, his passion for photography naturally combined with his concerns for social justice. After graduating, he returned to India, where he had volunteered with a human rights organization during his studies, to document the plight of climate refugees. He is mainly interested in telling in-depth stories on issues that are often under the radar of the media and bringing them to public attention.
His work is published by major media around the world, including Le Monde, Courrier International,
La Presse, Le Devoir, Time, The Walrus
and the NZZ. It has been exhibited in Canada, in France and in New York, and has received numerous awards, including a selection at Visa pour l’Image, a Grand Prix Lux, a Prix Antoine-Desilets and Honorable mentions at the Canadian Magazine Awards and at the International Photography Awards. He is based in Montreal and is represented by Polaris Images in New York.