The Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group in Thailand is one of the winners of the 2020 Equator Prize. Photo: Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group

New York, September 29—The 11th Equator Prize Award Ceremony honoured 10 Indigenous and local communities from across the world in a virtual gala event, delivering a powerful message of local leadership to the UN Biodiversity Summit and the UN General Assembly.

The event, hosted by the UNDP Equator Initiative partnership, recognized and celebrated the extraordinary initiatives and innovations created by 10 Indigenous peoples and local communities from 10 countries under the slogan “Nature for Life”.

The winners were awarded a cash prize of US$10,000 each for their significant work that showcases innovative, nature-based solutions for biodiversity, climate change and development challenges. This is the first time the Equator Prize has been awarded to groups in Canada and Myanmar. Winners are also based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, and Thailand.

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator stated, “The winners show us the value of working with nature, for climate action, for water security and for inclusive prosperity. They show us the importance of putting nature at the very heart of sustainable development. Their stories […] provide a blueprint for solving our planetary emergency.”

In awarding the prize to Equator Prize winner Alianza Ceibo in Ecuador, musician Sting pointed out that in light of forest fires and illegal forestation, “Indigenous peoples of the Amazon risk their lives every day to keep their forests – and our futures – intact.” Yet Equator Prize winners counter these challenges with innovative solutions.

The award ceremony featured winners in the categories of Nature for Water, Nature for Climate, and Nature for Prosperity. Each winning community delivered a statement to the audience, emphasizing the central role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in protecting, sustainably managing and restoring the world’s ecosystems.

Among the distinguished speakers and musicians were Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace; Henry Golding, Actor (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and Producer; Grammy Award-winning musicians Ricky Kej and Lila Downs, Grammy-nominated duo SOFI TUKKER, and representatives from all 10 winning initiatives in articulating their vision for local leadership in environmental management.

Among the distinguished personalities who presented the awards were Khemupsorn “Cherry” Sirisukha, Actor (Thailand); Prof. Raymond Ranjeva, Lawyer/judge, former Vice-President, International Court of Justice (Madagascar); Trudie Styler, Actor, Producer and Environmentalist (for Ecuador); Clara Hughes, Olympic Champion and Humanitarian (Canada);  Nicholas Saputra, Actor (Indonesia); Lahpai Seng Raw, Founder, Metta Development Foundation (Myanmar); David Kaimowitz, Senior Adviser, Climate and Land Use Alliance (for Guatemala); and Margaret Atwood, World-renowned Author and Environmental Activist (for Kenya).

Since its inception in 2002, the Equator Prize has recognized the innovative work of 255 community initiatives from 82 countries that are helping to protect the environment and tackle climate change while advancing their own sustainable development priorities. The latest group of winners are sustainably protecting, restoring and managing forests, farms, wetlands, and marine ecosystems to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to climate change. This year’s Equator Prize was made possible by the generous support of the Governments of Norway, Germany, and Sweden.

About the Equator Initiative

The Equator Initiative is a United Nations-led, multi-sectoral partnership that brings together governments, civil society, academia, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local, nature-based sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. Its mission is to identify and advance outstanding local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The Equator Initiative partnership offers a unique platform to celebrate success, inform global policymaking, and support local leadership in advancing innovative projects in sustainable development and climate issues.

About the winners

Access short summaries of the Equator Prize 2020 winners here. Videos about all winners available upon request. A recording of the event is available at www.natureforlifehub.org.

Media queries: Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP New York, email: sangita.khadka@undp.org, Tel: +1 212 906 5043.

Icon of SDG 02 Icon of SDG 03 Icon of SDG 06 Icon of SDG 10 Icon of SDG 12 Icon of SDG 13 Icon of SDG 14 Icon of SDG 15

UNDP Around the world