UN honours local groups with Equator Prize for sustainable development work

The 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2012 celebrating world recognition during the UNDP/Equator Initiative Rio+20 side event. Photo: UNDP Brazil/Daniel de Castro

21 June 2012 – Twenty-five local and indigenous groups were honoured on Wednesday evening by the United Nations for their outstanding contributions to sustainable development.

“Tonight’s event is about honouring the great innovation and leadership which is coming from the world’s local communities,” said the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, at the Equator Prize gala ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Awarded by UNDP’s Equator Initiative, the Prize recognizes outstanding local initiatives that are working to advance sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities – issues also at the heart of the discussions underway at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The winners included a forest protection community initiative in Fiji, an Egyptian medicinal plant association that cultivates species to create alternative livelihoods, a women’s artisan group in Colombia that recycles plastic and reduces waste, and an enterprise in Swaziland that teaches women how to cultivate seeds and offers environmental education.

“Organizations which win the Equator Prize show through their actions how the sustainable management of ecosystems is not only good for the environment, but empowers local people and increases their capacities and livelihood options,” Miss Clark said.

“Moving forward from Rio+20 it will be critical to acknowledge the central role of community-based organizations and local initiatives in delivering sustainable development solutions,” she added.

This year’s winners were selected from 812 nominations submitted by communities in 113 countries across the developing world. The 25 winners will each receive $5,000, with 10 selected for special recognition and a total of $20,000.

The ceremony was hosted by renowned Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil, and counted with the presence of other leaders in business and sustainable development, such as the founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, and a US actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador on Biodiversity, Edward Norton.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Equator Prize, which is awarded biennially.

More than 40,000 people – including heads of State and government, parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, business and civil society leaders – are attending Rio+20, between 20-22 June. It seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.


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