The Equator Prize 2017 winners announced for local innovative solutions tackling poverty, environment and climate challenges

Jun 30, 2017

40% of winners are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: UNDP Peru

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and partners announced today, the winners of the Equator Prize 2017, recognizing 15 local and indigenous communities from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The winning organizations, which showcase innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment, and climate challenges, will be honoured at a celebratory gala in New York on 17 September 2017.

Among the winners are a cooperative in Honduras that sells an essential ingredient in the international fragrance and flavor industry; an initiative promoting conflict resolution in Mali to protect the endangered African elephant; a family homestay network in Indonesia providing ecotourism services through a community-run web platform; and an insurance scheme in Pakistan that protects the endangered snow leopard while paying farmers damages for livestock losses.

“It is our privilege at UNDP, alongside our partners at the Equator Initiative, to have this opportunity to recognize and commend the achievements of this year’s Equator Prize winners. The solutions they have found in the service of their communities are as diverse as the development challenges they face. But what unites them is that each shows the power of people to bring about change while protecting the planet”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

“By shining a spotlight on these initiatives from all corners of the world, we hope that others will be inspired by their example. Their dedication and commitment shows what is possible when communities come together to protect and sustainably manage nature for the benefit of all”, he added.

The 15 Equator Prize 2017 winners are protecting, restoring and sustainably managing marine, forest, grassland, dryland and wetland ecosystems. In the process, they have created several thousand jobs and livelihoods, improved food and water security for hundreds of communities, protected endangered wildlife, and decreased risks from natural disasters. The communities reinvest revenues generated by their initiatives into water supply, education, women’s economic training and other development goals.

The winners were selected from a pool of 806 nominations across 120 countries by an independent Technical Advisory Committee of internationally renowned experts. The selection process emphasized community-based approaches that provide a blueprint for replication. Many of the winners are advocating for their models to be replicated at national and international levels, which would significantly advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

This is the first time the Equator Prize has been awarded to groups from Kazakhstan and Pakistan. Winners are also based in Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali and Thailand.

Equator Prize winners will each receive US$10,000 and the opportunity for a community representative to join a week-long summit in New York during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. They will be celebrated at the Equator Prize Award Ceremony on 17 September 2017 featuring celebrities, government and UN officials, civil society, and the media. The winners will join a network of 223 communities from 72 countries which have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002. To watch a trailer for the Award Ceremony, please see https://vimeo.com/208214535.

The Equator Prize has been supported by former Heads of State Gro Harlem Brundtland and Oscar Arias, Nobel Prize winners Al Gore and Elinor Ostrom, thought leaders Jane Goodall and Jeffrey Sachs, indigenous rights leader Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, philanthropists Richard Branson and Ted Turner, and celebrities Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, Gisele Bündchen, and many more.

The Equator Prize 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the Equator Initiative, a partnership that advances local, nature-based sustainable development solutions. Partners of the Equator Initiative include the governments of Germany, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Conservation International, the Convention on Biological Diversity, EcoAgriculture Partners, Fordham University, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, PCI Media Impact, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rare, UN Environment, UNDP, UN Foundation, USAID, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

For more information, please visit www.equatorinitiative.org or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter by using #EquatorPrize. Donations to the Equator Prize can be made on UNDP’s Digital Good platform at https://give.undp.org/campaign/equator-initiative/c133534.

Equator Prize 2017 winners

Community Baboon Sanctuary Women's Conservation Group – CBSWG, Belize

Led by women from seven communities in the northern coastal plain of Belize, CBSWG has improved local livelihoods and market access while safeguarding critical populations of black howler monkeys (locally called baboons) and other vulnerable wildlife populations.

Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia Apiwtxa (Association of Ashaninka People of the Amônia River), Brazil

Located in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia Apiwtxa uses participatory 3D mapping, advocacy, education, and cultural exchange to ensure healthy forests and communities.

Associação Terra Indígena Xingu – ATIX (Xingu Indigenous Land Association), Brazil

The first community-based organization to achieve organic certification in Brazil, ATIX produces two tons of certified organic honey each year to generate income, maintain vibrant indigenous culture, and promote traditional sustainable livelihoods in the 27,000 km² Terra Indígena Xingu.

Organización para la Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag – DECOIN (Organization for the Defense and Ecological Conservation of Intag), Ecuador

DECOIN, an organization active in the Intag Valley for over 20 years, provides essential support to communities resisting mining interests, conserving over 12,000 hectares of Andean biodiversity and advancing alternative livelihood options for 38 communities.

Alianza Internacional de Reforestación – AIRES (International Alliance for Reforestation), Guatemala

Led by indigenous Maya women, over the past 24 years AIRES has created a network of community practitioners engaged in reforestation and agroforestry for food security, disaster risk reduction, and better incomes.

Federación Tribus Pech de Honduras – FETRIPH (Tribal Pech Federation of Honduras), Honduras

In northeastern Honduras, FETRIPH has created a successful access and benefit sharing project integrating sustainable liquidambar production and government-sanctioned indigenous land management in order to sustain livelihoods, maintain healthy forests, and protect traditional knowledge, while providing the global fragrance industry with an essential ingredient.

Swayam Shikshan Prayog, India

Operating at the nexus of nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and gender, Swayam Shikshan Prayog empowers 72,000 women in the drought-prone state of Maharashtra to act as agricultural decision-makers, improving their health, food security, and economic well-being.

Asosiasi Usaha Homestay Lokal Kabupaten Raja Ampat (Local Homestay Business Association of the Raja Ampat District), Indonesia

This association of 86 community-owned businesses has created a homestay web portal for sustainable jobs through ecotourism, guaranteeing hospitality standards and environmental sustainability while enhancing community well-being and conserving fragile ecosystems.

Yayasan Planet Indonesia (Planet Indonesia Foundation), Indonesia

Under the leadership of local Dayak communities, Yayasan Planet Indonesia creates conservation compacts and community businesses that provide sustainable livelihoods, enhance local resilience, and protect intact native ecosystems.

Obschestvennyj Fond “Zhassyl Azyk” (Public Foundation “Zhassyl Azyk”), Kazakhstan

The Public Foundation “Zhassyl Azyk” utilizes sustainable alfalfa production to restore soil fertility, conserve water, and improve agricultural yields in a drought-prone region of Kazakstan, providing scalable solutions that address global challenges of food security, land degradation, water scarcity, and adaptation to climate change.

Mikoko Pamoja (Mangroves Together), Kenya

Mikoko Pamoja is a community-based initiative that has pioneered carbon credit payments for mangrove restoration, and is reinvesting the profits into local community development.

The Kuruwitu Conservation & Welfare Association, Kenya

The Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association is the first locally managed marine area in Kenya, a 'small but beautiful' initiative grounded in local community needs that has become a nation-wide model for sustainable fisheries, sea turtle protection, and small-scale business for improved livelihoods.

The Mali Elephant Project, Mali

The Mali Elephant Project promotes social cohesion, reduces violent extremism, and protects a critical population of the endangered African elephant through community-led natural resource management, support for alternative livelihoods, and a youth 'eco-guardian' initiative in a conflict zone.

Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization – BWCDO, Pakistan

Tackling acute human-snow leopard conflicts in northern Pakistan, BWCDO works in 17 villages to protect Baltistan’s snow leopards through insurance schemes and financial compensation against livestock losses following snow leopard attacks.

Community Mangrove Forest Conservation of Baan Bang La, Thailand

After their 192-hectare mangrove forest protected them from a devastating tsunami, the community of Baan Bang La rallied to secure forest management rights, a process which has ensured long-term mangrove protection, increased populations of endangered species, strengthened disaster resilience, and generated opportunities for small-scale business owners.

Contact information

Jamison Ervin, Manager, Global Programme on Nature for Development, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, Jamison.ervin@undp.org, +1 802 999 9792

Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York,  sangita.khadka@undp.org,  +1-212 906 5043

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