Five community groups from the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America won the United Nations-backed Equator Prize today for their initiatives to alleviate poverty while conserving local biodiversity.
The winners, who will each receive $30,000, were announced at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York after being selected by a jury from a group of 25 finalists chosen from more than 300 original nominations.
The village of Andavadoaka in Madagascar was among the winners, honoured for demonstrating how it managed an octopus fishery so that it can provide sustainable long-term benefits. In Kenya, the Shompole Community Trust won for conserving the country’s vast and scenic grasslands and savannah as part of a profit-making ecotourism venture for the local Masai people.
In Guatemala, the women of Alimentos Nutri-Naturales won the prize for reinstating the Maya nut as a staple source of nutrition and this conserving the nut forests in the buffer zone next to a biosphere reserve.
The women of Isabela Island’s “Blue Fish” Association, who work within the World Heritage-listed Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, were rewarded for marketing a local delicacy – tuna smoked with guava wood – as a way to promote the alternative use of marine resources and control invasive plant species.
The other winner, Shidulai Swarnivar Sangstha, uses riverboat-based educational resource centres throughout the Ganges River delta in Bangladesh to deliver information to locals about sustainable agricultural practices and market prices.
Awarded biennially, the prize is part of the Equator Initiative, set up in January 2002 by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), governments, business, civil society and communities to promote grassroots efforts in the tropics to reduce poverty through conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity.
Equatorial regions are home to both the world’s greatest concentrations of biological wealth and some of the highest levels of poverty.
Congratulating the winners, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis said they are just some of the numerous community initiatives of their kind taking place around the world.
“The proliferation and scaling up of efforts such as these is critical to the achievement of our common goals to conserve biodiversity, respond to climate change and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said.