22 Equator Prize Winners Receive Prestigious Award at New York Gala Event

September 25, 2019

New York, September 24—The 10th Equator Prize Award Ceremony honoured 22 local and indigenous communities from across the world in a gala event last evening in New York, coinciding with the UN Climate Week and the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Leading thinkers, policymakers, and business and civil society leaders from around the globe gathered in The Town Hall theater in New York, hosted by UNDP Equator Initiative partnership, to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary initiatives and innovations created by 22 indigenous peoples and local communities from 16 countries.

The winners were awarded a cash prize of US$10,000 each for their significant work that showcases innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling climate change. This is the first time the Equator Prize has been awarded to groups from Guinea-Bissau, as well as to indigenous communities in Australia and the United States. Winners are also based in Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Micronesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Tanzania, and Vanuatu.

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator stated, "On Monday the UN Secretary General invited the world to New York to Climate Action Summit and the theme of this year's Equator Prize award is in fact Climate Change Nature Based Solutions. We are very proud that we will share with you this evening 22 extraordinary stories, 22 extraordinary solutions and 22 reasons to be hopeful. When we have the opportunity to have such an award ceremony we  not only are picking out 22 people from maybe 22 million people who are doing things like this, but we also want everybody to walk out of here and not feel that it is hopeless."

UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shared his recent trip to Peru, where he witnessed the struggle of people who depended on agricultural land for food and survival and the impacts of climate change. "There is inequality at a global scale. We have to solve inequality to solve climate change," he said.

The award ceremony featured winners in the categories of climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and nature-aligned, low-carbon economies.

Among the distinguished speakers were Inger Anderson, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Dr Lucía Delfina Ruíz Ostoic, Minister of Environment, Peru; Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany; Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility; Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability, The Estée Lauder Companies; and Marit Brandtzæg, Deputy Director General, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Among other distinguished personalities who presented the awards were Jenny Springer, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Dr. Dennis Jacobs, Fordham University; Ulrika Åkesson, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); Dr. André Corrêa d'Almeida, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Oona Chaplin, the Spanish actress, graced the occasion as the Master of the Ceremonies.

Since its inception in 2002, the Equator Prize has recognized the innovative work of 245 community initiatives from 81 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 Germany and Norway, Estee Lauder Corporation, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and One Earth, and with the partnership of Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

About 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 2019 winners here. Videos about all winners available upon request.

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