The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and partners announced the winners of the Equator Prize 2017, recognizing 15 local and indigenous communities from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The winning organizations, which showcase innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment, and climate challenges, will be honored at a celebratory gala in New York on September 17, 2017.
The Alliance for International Reforestation, or "AIRES" in Spanish, has just been named one of the winners of the 2017 Equator Prize! There were 806 nominations from 120 countries, with just 15 winners-- including AIRES with US Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. AIRES has trained thousands of families in 130 communities in Guatemala and planted over 5 million trees on mountain slopes. AIRES members will be traveling to NYC to receive the prize at the General Assembly meeting of the UN in mid-September.
Twelve people from Atlanta volunteered with AIRES this June-- working in rural schools and planting trees in Guatemala.
Among the winners are a cooperative in Honduras that sells an essential ingredient in the international fragrance and flavor industry; an initiative promoting conflict resolution in Mali to protect the endangered African elephant; a family homestay network in Indonesia providing ecotourism services through a community-run web platform; and an insurance scheme in Pakistan that protects the endangered snow leopard while paying farmers damages for livestock losses.
“The Equator Prize winners show that when communities come together to protect and sustainably manage nature, they can make great strides in achieving sustainable development at the local level”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
“They are demonstrating how investing in nature can deliver multiple development benefits simultaneously, and they exemplify the indivisibility of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development”, he added.
The 15 Equator Prize 2017 winners are protecting, restoring and sustainably managing marine, forest, grassland, dryland and wetland ecosystems. In the process, they have created several thousand jobs and livelihoods, improved food and water security for hundreds of communities, protected endangered wildlife, and decreased risks from natural disasters. The communities reinvest revenues generated by their initiatives into water supply, education, women’s economic training and other development goals.
The winners were selected from a pool of 806 nominations across 120 countries by an independent Technical Advisory Committee of internationally renowned experts. The selection process emphasized community-based approaches that provide a blueprint for replication. Many of the winners are advocating for their models to be replicated at national and international levels, which would significantly advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This is the first time the Equator Prize has been awarded to groups from Kazakhstan, Mali, and Pakistan. Winners are also based in Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Thailand.
Equator Prize winners will each receive US$10,000 and the opportunity for a community representative to join a week-long summit in New York during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. They will be celebrated at the Equator Prize Award Ceremony on 17 September 2017 featuring celebrities, government and UN officials, civil society, and the media. The winners will join a network of 223 communities from 73 countries which have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002.
The Equator Prize has been supported by former Heads of State Gro Harlem Brundtland and Oscar Arias, Nobel Prize winners Al Gore and Elinor Ostrom, thought leaders Jane Goodall and Jeffrey Sachs, indigenous rights leader Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, philanthropists Richard Branson and Ted Turner, and celebrities Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, Gisele Bündchen, and many more.
The Equator Prize 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the Equator Initiative, a partnership that advances local, nature-based sustainable development solutions. Partners of the Equator Initiative include the governments of Germany, Norway, and Sweden, as well as Conservation International, the Convention on Biological Diversity, EcoAgriculture Partners, Fordham University, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, PCI Media Impact, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rare, UN Environment, UNDP, UN Foundation, USAID, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
For more information, please visit www.equatorinitiative.org or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter by using #EquatorPrize. Donations to the Equator Prize can be made on UNDP’s Digital Good platform at https://give.undp.org/campaign/equator-initiative/c133534.