The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and partners on Monday, June 15, 2020 announced the winners of the 11th Equator Prize to recognise 10 local and indigenous communities from across the world. The winning organisations showcase innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling biodiversity loss and climate change.
Equator Prize winners, who represent indigenous communities, have been urging the world to adopt a more indigenous-inspired way of coexisting with nature, acknowledging and respecting the connection between human and planetary health. Now, they are reiterating that message in light of the coronavirus – how protection, sustainable use, and restoration of nature can secure well-being and livelihoods for communities all over the world.
The winners were selected from a pool of 583 nominations from over 120 countries by an independent Technical Advisory Committee of internationally renowned experts. The selection was based on community-based approaches that provide a blueprint for replication and scaling solutions to address our biodiversity crisis.
The winners are Salween Peace Park (Myanmar), Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Kayan Mentarang National Park (Indonesia), Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group (Thailand), Asociación de Forestería Comunitaria Utz Che’ (Guatemala) and Alianza Ceibo (Ecuador).
Others include Mujeres y Ambiente SPR de RL de CV (Mexico), Vie Sauvage (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Nashulai Maasai Conservancy (Kenya), Vondron’Olona Ifotony Tatamo Miray an’Andranobe (Madagascar) and Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation (Canada).
The Vie Sauvage of the DRC, for example, has in a remote part of the Congo Basin, pioneered a holistic model for community development, conservation, and peace-building, helping create and manage a 4,875 square kilometer reserve for the bonobo (a great ape), and other endangered species.
Deeply rooted indigenous traditions see the bonobo as close relative to humans and forbid its hunting or eating. Local economic, social and health needs drive the planning of conservation activities, and support community ownership and mobilisation.
The initiative is said to have created jobs in the management of the reserve and ecotourism. Basic health care, education programmes, and agricultural cooperatives as well as a micro-enterprise program provide a perspective for isolated indigenous villages. Community activism helped achieve national government recognition for the community reserve, which is managed by Vie Sauvage.
The winners will be celebrated through a series of virtual events in September 2020 during Climate Week NYC, in parallel with the UN General Assembly and Nature Summit.