Five community groups have been singled out for special recognition by the United Nations-backed Equator Initiative for their innovative efforts to slash poverty and conserve biodiversity.
These groups, each receiving $20,000, were selected from the 25 winners of the 2008 Equator Prize, which reward exceptional leadership in adapting to climate change and preserving biodiversity while boosting the livelihoods of their communities.
The initiatives receiving special recognition were chosen by an eminent jury including founder of the UN Foundation (UNF) Ted Turner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary – managed by a board representing more than 10,000 people from 17 communities – was selected for its work in protecting the resident hippopotamus population along the Black Volta River in northern Ghana. Revenues from the sanctuary, which also houses over 500 other animal species, are used to provide safe drinking water and are invested in literacy and education initiatives.
In Sri Lanka, the Community Development Centre conserves dozens of indigenous varieties of roots and yams, promoting the use of traditional crops to increase local farmers’ incomes. It also seeks to empower communities and bolster sustainability through knowledge exchange and seed banks.
Established by local women in 2003, the Artisans Association of Arbolsol and Huaca de Barro of the Morrope District in Peru endeavours to recover traditional methods of producing cotton that are environmentally friendly.
The Indonesian Community-based Marine Management Foundation supports communities as they implement management systems to protect their marine resources to increase incomes and conserve local biodiversity.
Ecuador’s Union of Farming and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi comprises 3,225 Quechua families and aims to improve the quality of life of indigenous Ecuadorians. The group focuses its work on the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, the reintroduction and maintenance of traditional cultural practices, and comprehensive community participation.
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.