New York, NY – Twenty-five local and indigenous community groups from across the developing world were presented with the UN’s Equator Prize at a gala event at the American Museum of Natural History last evening in recognition of outstanding work in biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction and adaptation to climate change. Of these, four have been important previous and current partners of Conservation International in efforts to protect nature and improve human well-being.
“It is an honor for us to have worked with these groups. They are incredibly ingenious in transforming conservation and human development into profit-making enterprises that helps all of us adapt to an ever-changing world,” said Conservation International’s Vice President and Executive Director of the Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, Kristen Walker. “World leaders and other communities should look at them as a source of inspiration and knowledge to achieve both growth and sustainability.”
The Equator Prize is awarded by the Equator Initiative, a United Nations-led partnership that works to raise the profile of grassroots efforts in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. The award ceremony was convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a host of partners to illuminate critical linkages between biodiversity conservation, healthy ecosystems, climate change and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Celebrities and opinion leaders joined top UN dignitaries to help deliver the message to an audience of 450 world leaders that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, which are being lost and degraded at unsustainable rates, are essential for achievement of the MDGs, and that front-line solutions advanced by local and indigenous communities offer tremendous opportunities for conservation and sustainable development and must be scaled up.
The four initiatives that Conservation International has partnered with are:
Consejo Regional Tsimané Mosetene – Pilon Lajas (CRTM PL)
Tsimané Mosetene Regional Council - Pilon Lajas works to conserve Bolivia’s Biosphere Reserve and to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples within the territory. The reserved area is collaboratively managed between Tsimané Mosetene Regional Council and Bolivia’s National Service of Protected Areas. The initiative works to ban illegal poachers, promote local biodiversity conservation education, preserve local culture and traditions, promote sustainable agriculture, and improve local livelihoods. Tsimané Mosetene Regional Council - Pilon Lajas was also given a "special recognition" for "Applied Indigenous Knowledge".
The CRTM – PL is a very close partner of CI Bolivia and they have been working together for almost 10 years strengthening the Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve co – management, developing their Territorial Management Plan and Life Plan, building successful ecotourism initiatives, supporting the development of economic initiatives based on sustainable natural resources use, and indigenous educational projects, among others.
Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.
Kapawi Ecotourism is a community-based tourism project in the Amazon created for the purpose of contributing to the local economic, social and cultural development. Consisting of seven different Achuar communities (Kapawi, Wachirpas, Ishpingo, Kusutkau, Wayusentsa, Sharamensa and Suwa), it provides visits to one of the most pristine areas of Ecuador, including hiking in the jungle, canoeing in rivers and lakes, swimming, and watching birds, piranhas, pink dolphins, alligators, and other animals. Apart from biodiversity tours, Kapawi Ecotourism offers tourists the chance to get to know the local community. Ecotourism serves as a leverage to increase local incomes, but also incentivizes the protection of natural resources in the area. Last evening, Kapawi Ecotourism was also awarded with a “special recognition” of US$20,000 by the Equator Prize.
Fundación para la Agricultura Tropical Alternativa y el Desarrollo Integral (FUNDATADI)
The Tropical Agriculture Foundation and the Integral Development Alternative was developed in the rural communities of the state of Barinas, Venezuela. It aims to conserve the forests and promote community development through the cultivation and agricultural optimization of medicinal plants in family plantations. Local livelihoods and economic activity in the region was largely focused on shade-cultivated coffee and stockbreeding. The initiative offers an alternative income-generating opportunity through the cultivation of medicinal plants that also puts less environmental strain on the local ecosystems.
Association ADIDY Maitso aims to protect the natural resources of the Ankeniheny Zahamena forest corridor along the east coast of Madagascar, where over 80 percent of the diversified species on the planet reside. Reforestation and restoration activities are used to promote the diversification of local livelihoods and to raise awareness of the economic value of biodiversity conservation. Agro-forestry training is provided to local farmers, with a particular focus on helping women gain financial independence through garden farming. Patrols and surveillance are used to ensure the conservation of local biodiversity and to monitor illegal logging of tropical rosewood, an escalating problem in Madagascar. Association ADIDY Maitso was also awarded with a “special recognition” by the Equator Prize.
For the full list of winners of the Equator Prize 2010, please visit www.equatorinitiative.org
The event was attended by nine Heads of State or Government and dozens of Ministers in New York for the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. Ted Turner, Chairman of the United Nations Fund; Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth reporter; Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador; and Gisele Bündchen, supermodel and UN’s Goodwill Ambassador, were among the participants in the evening’s activities.
“Diversity of creative ideas, tried and tested in the real world, will in many ways define whether this generation can achieve and sustain the goals it has set for itself – from reducing poverty and combating climate change to reversing the rate of loss of the planet’s nature-based assets,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “Leaders seeking inspirational and concrete examples of how to their green economies need look no further than the diversity of winning projects showcased today among the 2010 Equator Initiative winners. Their transformational and entrepreneurial projects offer a range of practical blue-prints of sustainability ripe for replication across communities and countries globally,” he added.
“The Equator Prize offers well-deserved recognition of the critical contributions made by indigenous people and local communities to the conservation of some of the most pristine natural environments left on Earth", said Conservation International's CEO Peter Seligmann. "We are honored to support the Equator Initiative and partner with these communities in this globally important work which benefits all humanity.”
Notes to Editors:
The event was convened by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Governments of Germany, Norway and Sweden, the American Museum of Natural History, Conservation International (CI), Fordham University, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation (UNF), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wildlife Fund International (WWF) and World Resources Institute (WRI).
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, helping countries design and share solutions for global and national development challenges. We operate in 166 countries worldwide, connecting them to the knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. www.undp.org
Conservation International (CI) - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information visit www.conservation.org