15 Equator Prize Winners Receive Prestigious Award at New York Gala Event

Sep 18, 2017

Out of the 15 winning organizations 6 are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Arnaldo Vargas/UNDP

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and partners honored 15 local and indigenous communities from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean in a gala event last evening in New York, coinciding with the Global Goals Week and the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.

Out of the 15 winning organizations 6 are from Latin America and the Caribbean: a cooperative in Honduras that sells an essential ingredient in the international fragrance and flavor industry; a Belize-led women's initiative that protects black howler monkeys and other vulnerable wildlife populations; an association in Brazil that uses participatory 3D mapping, advocacy, education and cultural exchange to ensure healthy forests and communities; an organization in Ecuador that provides essential support to communities that resist mining interests; an alliance of women in Guatemala led by indigenous Maya women that has created in the last 24 years a network of community practitioners engaged in reforestation and agroforestry for food security, disaster risk reduction and better income; and a Brazilian association that produces certified organic honey to generate income, maintain a vibrant indigenous culture, and promote traditional sustainable livelihoods.

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.

The winners were awarded a cash prize of US$10,000 each for their significant work to create scalable, nature-based solutions to address biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, gender empowerment, land rights, and food and water security. For example, they have protected endangered species, saved millions of hectares of forests and mangroves, and created thousands of income-opportunities for community members. They have improved their natural environments, preserved indigenous and traditional knowledge, and advanced educational opportunities.

 "The 15 communities we honour tonight, together with the more than 200 previous prize winners, and more than 5,000 nominations we have received to date, are weaving together a global tapestry of local solutions to tackle some of the biggest global challenges we face. These solutions show us that when we invest in nature, we can achieve our global goals of obtaining food, water, peace, gender parity, and security in a truly sustainable manner.  By thinking globally and acting locally, the 2017 Equator Prize Winners helped not only their communities but also communities worldwide facing sustainable development challenges.", said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.  

The winners made a clarion call to the governments, civil society, donors and all the stakeholders to join hands in protecting mother earth, our shared heritage. "By safeguarding nature, we are investing in sustainable development," they expressed. The winners also expressed that without empowering women there can be no social change, furthermore they emphasized on the need of landrights for women farmers and entrepreneurship."

The high-level event also marked the 15th anniversary of the Equator Initiative. The award ceremony featured three videos produced by the National Geographic in partnership with Equator Initiative, on the theme of local action to conserve forests; grasslands, drylands and mountains and oceans.

This year’s Equator Prize was made possible by the generous support of the Governments of Germany, Norway, and Sweden, National Geographic, Pvblic Foundation, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, Rainforest Norway, The Nature Conservancy, and the individuals who contributed generously to the Equator Initiative crowdfunding campaign.

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.



Jamison Ervin, Jamison.ervin@undp.org +1.802.999.9792

Sangita Khadka, sangita.khadka@undp.org, + 1-212-906-5043


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