Equator Prize winners honored at Rio+20 for community-led environment and poverty solutions

Jun 20, 2012

Sustainable development leaders and global celebrities join in celebration (Photo: Daniel de Castro/UNDP Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro — The Equator Initiative celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Equator Prize with a gala event at the Vivo Rio concert hall, as part of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Twenty-five local and indigenous groups earned distinctions for their outstanding contributions to sustainable development, leading campaigns that address central themes to the Rio+20 conference like food security, freshwater access, sustainable energy, oceans and biodiversity. In addition, the Equator Initiative awarded thematic prizes in ten categories from the pool of winners.

A host of world-renowned celebrities and leaders in sustainable development joined the winners on stage in celebration. Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, and Gilberto Gil, world-renowned musician and former Brazilian Minister of Culture, hosted the evening event, while Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, and Camila Pitanga, Brazilian actress and environmental advocate served as emcees. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, assisted with awards presentations.

The evening’s thematic award winners, selected by jurors Maurice Strong, Sir Richard Branson, Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan, M.S. Swaminathan, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and Gilberto Gil, were:

  • Biodiversity: Pacari Network (Brazil)
  • Community-based adaptation: Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee (Marshall Islands)
  • Drylands: Abrha Weatsbha Natural Resource Management Initiative (Ethiopia)
  • Energy: Medicinal Plants Association (Egypt)
  • Food: Women and Land (Tajikistan)
  • Forests: West Africa Initiative of Liberia (Liberia)
  • Oceans: Pemuteran Bay Coral Protection Foundation (Indonesia)
  • Waste: United Women Artisans' Association of Los Límites (Colombia)
  • Water: Shashwat (India)
  • Women’s Empowerment: Swazi Indigenous Products (Swaziland)

“Tonight’s event is about honoring the great innovation and leadership which is coming from the world’s local communities,” remarked UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. “Organizations which win the Equator Prize show through their actions how the sustainable management of ecosystems is not only good for the environment, but empowers local people and increases their capacities and livelihood options.”  

“Moving forward from Rio+20,” she continued, “it will be critical to acknowledge the central role of community-based organizations and local initiatives in delivering sustainable development solutions.”

Both the awards ceremony and a week-long “community summit” for winners to share ideas and resources, were convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supporting partners to recognize and advance local development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

This year’s winners were selected from 812 nominations submitted by communities in 113 countries across the developing world, indicating a global movement in community-led solutions for sustainability. 

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. As a part of the Initiative, the Equator Prize helps share the messages that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, which are being lost and degraded at alarming rates, are essential to ensuring global sustainability – and that community-led initiatives like those honored at the event can offer innovative, effective and much-needed solutions, and require greater support to scale their potential impact.

The Equator Prize has been endorsed by former Heads of State Gro Harlem Brundtland and Oscar Arias, philanthropist Ted Turner, Nobel laureates including Elinor Ostrom, and celebrities Gisele Bündchen and Edward Norton.

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.

Contact information

Tim Gnatek, Tel: +1 415 342 6632, Rio+20 Local Tel: +21 8921 8859, tim@bluepractice.com, or equatorinitiative@undp.org, or visit www.EquatorInitiative.org

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