Equator Prize winners announced, awards will be presented during Rio+20

Mar 23, 2012

New York — The Equator Initiative announced yesterday the names of twenty-five local community groups to receive the Equator Prize 2012 in recognition of their outstanding contributions to sustainable development.  The winners were selected from 812 nominations submitted by communities in 113 countries across the developing world. 

The winners will be celebrated at a high level event during the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  They will receive a monetary award and participate in a ‘community summit’ that will run in parallel to the larger conference. 

“We wanted to make this a truly global award, so expanded eligibility to all countries receiving support from UNDP.  The overwhelming response from 113 countries in 13 languages tells us there is a world of community-based innovation out there, and that demand for a better future transcends borders,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

“These community efforts are heroic and inspiring. And that is what the Equator Prize is all about – shining a spotlight on the women and men on the front lines of sustainable development.  At UNDP, we are so deeply proud of leading this initiative and giving communities a voice.” 

Many of the foundational issues to be discussed at the landmark Rio+20 Conference are represented in the pool of winners: food security, sustainable jobs, freshwater access, sustainable energy, oceans, and more. 

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

The Equator Prize, which has been endorsed by former Heads of State Gro Harlem Brundtland and Oscar Arias, philanthropist Ted Turner, a host of Nobel laureates, and celebrities Gisele Bündchen and Edward Norton, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year.

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; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); UNEP; UNDP; and UN Foundation.


Equator Prize 2012 Winners

Asia and the Pacific:

Chunoti Co-Management Committee protects the once-degraded Chunoti Wildlife Sanctuary by coordinating volunteer patrols and reinvesting ecotourism revenues into conservation and community works projects.  The group has created a leading model of successful protected area co-management in Bangladesh.

Kangmei Institute of Community Development and Marketing in China promotes medicinal plant and herb cultivation techniques which have raised local incomes, created jobs and protected endemic wildlife, including the giant panda.  

Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee in the Marshall Islands advances innovative techniques in shoreline rehabilitation, rainwater harvesting, solar power provision and food security, while jointly promoting community-based adaptation to climate change.     

Pemuteran Bay Coral Protection Foundation in Indonesia restores degraded coral reefs near the Pemuteran community in Bali, thereby improving marine resource abundance and diversity, while also generating sustainable livelihood options for villagers.  

Shashwat works with tribal groups in India who have been displaced by the construction of a hydro dam, promoting small-scale fishing in the dam reservoir, locally-accessible irrigation technology, crop diversification, and agriculture techniques for the steep-sloping terrain.

Sisi Initiative Site Support Group in Fiji sustainably manages natural resources around the periphery of the Natewa Tunuloa Important Bird Area, providing the local population with jobs, food security and incentives to conserve the surrounding ecosystems.   

Tetepare Descendents’ Association in the Solomon Islands advances an incentive scheme which offers indigenous landholders education and livelihood services in exchange for their commitment to sustainably manage the marine and forest resources surrounding Tetepare Island.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia:

Women and Land in Tajikistan operates in a post-conflict zone, supporting landless farmers to secure resource rights, land tenure and diversify agricultural production methods.  

Latin America and the Caribbean:

Pacari Network in Brazil is an alliance of grassroots organizations and traditional pharmacies that cultivate medicinal plants to improve community health, preserve traditional knowledge, create jobs and conserve biodiversity in the Cerrado biome.  

Association of Water Committees of the Southern Sector of Pico Bonito in Honduras oversees community-based management of micro-watersheds and trains the local population in reforestation, environmental conservation, and the use of locally-applicable technologies such as eco-stoves. 

Centro Alexander von Humboldt offers communities training in water management, lobbies the Nicaraguan government for water rights, builds and repairs water systems, and distributes fuel-efficient and solar-powered stoves.

Environmental and Social Studies Group in Mexico secures local access to safe water in the Central Mountain region of Guerrero and trains communities in both sustainable land management techniques and agricultural diversification. 

Ixpiyakok Women's Association in Guatemala works to improve food security and local nutrition through the establishment of organic farms, collective land management plans, and seed banks.

United Women Artisans' Association of Los Límites in Colombia produces stuffed animal toys of the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin monkey, improving the incomes of local women and raising awareness of the threats posed to this species by hunting and capture for sale in the pet trade.

Middle East and North Africa:

Association AMSING in Morocco works in the village of Elmoudaa to prevent land degradation, manage the local supply of fresh water, and promote community resilience to climate change.

Medicinal Plants Association in Egypt cultivates medicinal plants in the Saint Catherine Reserve in Sinai, creating sustainable income-generating opportunities for the area’s Bedouin population.

Zenab for Women in Development in Sudan uses a farmer union model to empower local women, improve local food security and sovereignty, and provide access to environmental education.


Abrha Atsbha Natural Resource Management Initiative in Ethiopia runs a reforestation program that uses fruit orchards, apiculture, crop diversification, and information on effective irrigation methods to improve local livelihoods. 

Association Anja Miray in Madagascar runs a community forest reserve in the Haute Matsiatra region, using ecotourism to create jobs and provide a revenue stream for ongoing conservation work.   

Fishers' Association of the Rural Community of Mangagoulack in Senegal oversees a locally managed marine area which sets out resource rights and responsibilities for the local fishing communities, and which has improved local incomes and strengthened food security.   

Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Kenya preserves the wilderness, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem by creating long-term economic benefits for Maasai communities.

Swazi Indigenous Products is a member-owned natural seed oils enterprise in Swaziland that provides jobs and income to women while also helping conserve the environment.

TRY Oyster Women's Association in Gambia is a women’s oyster cooperative that protects mangroves while also creating market supply chains that benefit local producers.

Village Development Committee of Ando Kpomey in Togo created a green belt buffer around its community that has grown into a 100-hectare forest.  A participatory management committee has been established to monitor the forest and its resources and to regulate their use. 

West Africa Initiative of Liberia provides unemployed members of rural communities with environmentally-responsible livelihoods, including apiculture, snail cultivation, and reforestation. 

Contact information

Lei Zong, Tel: +1 212 906 5920, Mobile: +1917 822 5490, lei.zong@undp.org or equatorinitiative@undp.org

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