Equator Prize winners for local innovative solutions emerge

PHOTO: UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and partners has announced 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 September 17, 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.

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