Dr. Vandana Shiva has dedicated her life to protect biodiversity, save seeds, and promote traditional organic farming methods that protect farmers’ rights. Since the mid-1990s, she has been promoting traditional knowledge and livelihoods, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation, particularly in support of small communities and marginalized groups, including women, small farmers and indigenous and local communities in India.
Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 18 states in India that provides training on sustainable agriculture and agroecological techniques. Navdanya’s farm in Uttarakhand conserves more than 2,300 varieties of paddy rice, wheat, barley, oats, mustard, millets, pulses, spices, vegetables and medicinal plants. Innovative agroecological techniques are developed and adapted to local resources and biodiversity studies in this experimental farm.
Navdanya has helped set up 122 community seed banks across the country, trained over 800,000 farmers in seed conservation, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, and helped set up the largest fair-trade organic network in the country.
Women are keys to Navdanya’s work. Diverse Women for Diversity is the global movement started by Dr. Shiva in 1995. The movement has rejuvenated women’s skills, knowledge and livelihood related to seeds, and processing of healthy traditional foods, thus empowering women, and benefitting society.
“Seeds of Hope” encourages women’s spearhead role in communities’ food security. Understanding the mechanisms and issues of climate change, farmers can change their production habits with the support of citizen consumers.
Based on her approach and knowledge of agronomy and economic research, Dr. Shiva has been influential on policies at national and international levels, and has contributed to the world discourses on biodiversity, access and benefit-sharing, and biosafety. She has promoted and developed alternative agricultural solutions jointly with small farmers in India. She has contributed as an expert to the Convention on Biological Diversity and to India’s Biodiversity Act, Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Act, and Forest Rights Act. Her great influence in challenging policies has shaped a planetary alliance to protect the planet’s biodiversity and people’s rights.
“For the fourth time, the MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity has been awarded to three individuals who have contributed in outstanding ways to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of its benefits,” said Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. “I sincerely congratulate the 2016 winners for their numerous achievements and commend them for providing such positive inspiration.”
Each of the prize winners is awarded a commemorative gift and plaque and a monetary prize of $100,000 to support their work. The prize winners will also deliver public lectures at a Winners’ Forum that will be held on 7 December 2016 at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan.