UNDP-led partnership unveils key to successful community-driven sustainable development projects

16 Oct 2012

Hyderabad, India — The Equator Initiative - a United Nations-led partnership which recognizes the success of local sustainable development projects with the biennial Equator Prize - has launched a series of 127 case studies and a volume of “lessons-learned” outlining the key components of successful, community-based development initiatives. 

“People want to know what is behind these inspiring groups – this pool of exceptional communities that are managing natural wealth to create pathways out of poverty – and they want to know what UNDP has learned from working with them,” said Veerle Vandeweerd, Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Environment and Energy Group. “Today, we are responding to that call.” 

The case study series documents in detail the work of the recipients of the Equator Prize to date, all of which are innovative local responses to the challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. The series is accompanied by a volume of “lessons learned,” entitled The Power of Local Action: Lessons from 10 years of the Equator Prize, which contains highlights and best practices from the case study series.

The launch took place during the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India, where governments convened to negotiate the details of a roadmap to sustain the rich diversity of life on earth. 

Examples of some of the pioneering projects chronicled in the series include:  

  • Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha in Bangladesh, which uses a fleet of solar-powered, floating schools, health clinics and training centres to bring needed services to poor riverbank communities in flood-prone areas. 
  • Guassa-Menz Community Conservation Area in Ethiopia, which has reintroduced a traditional grassland management system to create jobs and protect threatened species of wolf and baboon.
  • The Talamanca Initiative in Costa Rica, which is pioneering a model of community-led conservation and organic farming that has transformed the local economy and local landscapes.   

The Equator Prize – which has been endorsed by Sir Richard Branson, philanthropist Ted Turner, celebrities Edward Norton and Gisele Bündchen, in addition to a number of Nobel Prize winners and former heads of state – is most commonly associated with promoting innovative solutions through which local communities located along the equatorial belt are able to pursue their agricultural and business interest while conserving biodiversity and environment. 

Equator Prize winners are grassroots organizations taking action to empower local communities while protecting the environment through, for example, community-based forest management, small-scale fishing, wildlife protection, seed banks, sustainable energy and water access.

The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the UN, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to advance local solutions for people, the environment and resilient communities in a changing world.

Current partners of the initiative include: Conservation International; Convention on Biological Diversity; Ecoagriculture Partners; Fordham University; German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; International Union for Conservation of Nature; The Nature Conservancy; Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Rare; UN Environment Program; UNDP; and UN Foundation.

Contact Information

Joseph Corcoran at joseph.corcoran@undp.org.