Equator Prize 2015 National Ceremonies
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Following the success of the Equator Prize 2015 Award Ceremony, held as part of the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, France, on 7 December 2015, Equator Prize winners have also been recognised at the national level in ceremonies organised by UNDP Country Offices. Policymakers and government representatives up to the ministerial level, diplomats including ambassadors, representatives from the UN and from civil society and the media attended these high-profile events, bringing national attention to these organisations' outstanding achievements. Please follow the links below to view speeches, photos, and video footage from these ceremonies. 

AFGHANISTAN National Ceremony - 23 April 2016

 

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To celebrate Earth Day, UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme presented the “Champion of the Earth” awards in Afghanistan to successful UNDP-supported environmentalists at a packed ceremony in Bagh-e-Babur, Kabul. Speeches were delivered by his Excellency Prince Mostapha Zaher, Minister of the National Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Douglas Keh, UNDP Country Director in Afghanistan, and Mr. Sangcharaki, the representative of Chief Executive Officer of the Government of Afghanistan. Other high ranking officials and representatives from various national and international organizations attended the event. The Equator Prize was presented to Rural Green Environment Organization (RGEO) by Prince Mostapha and Mr. Douglas Keh. RGEO was represented by local community representative Mr. Haji Owrang, RGEO Director Eng. Seyer Ahmad and Ms. Farkhunda Siddiqi, RGEO Gender Officer.

Awards were also presented in the categories of “Most Successful Environmental Activists” and “Most innovative community-based environmental projects”. After the event, projects were presented in a trade-fair style exhibition. The event was covered extensively in the local media, in particular on TV. Coverage and photos from UNDP Afghanistan are available here.

Further Reference

Press articles: Hash-e-Subh News, Afghan Voice Agency, Salam Watandar News
TV coverage: Tolo-Mehwar program, VOA-Dari, VOA-Pashto, One TV (14:21-17:27), Shamshad TV (12:48-14:56), Rah-e-Farda TV, Maiwand TV (14:11-17:35), Mitra TV.
Photo credit: UNDP Afghanistan / Tawab Sadaat Photography.

BELIZE National Ceremony - 7 May 2016

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The Maya Leaders Alliance of Southern Belize was honored at an event held at the sacred site of Nim Li Punit and hosted by the Alcalde and Chairman of Indian Creek. UNDP Resident Coordinator in Belize, Mr. Christian Salazar Volkmann presented a plaque to Chief Alfonso Cal and vice-president of the Toledo Alcaldes Association, Mr. Thomas Ishim, both representing 39 Q’eqchi and Mopan Maya indigenous communities. Cristina Coc, representative of the Maya Leaders Alliance, said "we have placed the work of our humble people in the international arena".

Further Reference

Please find a photos of the event here and here.

TV Coverage: Love Television Evening News (16:35-20:43)

CHINA National Ceremony - 22 April 2016

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The Yunnan Green Watershed Management Research and Promotion Center was celebrated as a winner of the Equator Prize 2015 at a ceremony held in Beijing, China. The award ceremony coincided with the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN Headquarters, by more than 170 countries. The Director of the Green Watershed initiative, Mr. Yu Xiaogang, emphasized the important work of the organization, “We are grateful to UNDP for having invited us to the high-level dialogue during COP21 in Paris which allowed indigenous people to express their expectation of climate action to the international community.” The Equator Prize was presented to Green Watershed by Mr. Patrick Haverman, Resident Representative a.i. of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, and Mr. Jan Wilhelm Grythe, Counsellor for Development in the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing. 

Further Reference

Interview with Mr. Xiaogang Yu, Director of Green Watershed in China Environment News.

Please find a full report of the event here.

COLOMBIA National Ceremony - 20 May 2016

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Wuasikamas, el modelo del pueblo Inga en Aponte, was celebrated at a national ceremony in the Congress of the Republic of Colombia in Bogotá, on 20 May. More than 30 representatives of the Inga people traveld to the capital to receive the Equator Prize in the presence of the Colombian vice-minister for the Environment, Mr. Pablo Vieira Samper and the Secretary of the Government of the Department of Nariño, Mr. Mario Viteri. UNDP's Resident Representative a.i. Arnaud Peral, said that "the goals stated in the Paris Agreement can only be reached working with local communities, because it is there where the results of interventions are tangible". The Ambassador of Norway to Colombia, Mr. Lars Vaagen, pointed out that the achievements of the Inga people "have been indispensable for the plants, wildlife, and restoration of significant areas of land, and additionally has improved the governance and social fabric of the Inga people." Reference was also made on the recent tectonic phenomenon affecting the community. Crevasses have displaced hundreds of villagers.

Further Reference

For a full report of the event, please click here. Photos from the event are available here. To see video testimonials, please click here and here.

Background information on the Inga people and their Equator Prize 2015 can be found here.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO National Ceremony - 18 May 2016

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At the national award ceremony in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, held on 18 May in Kinshasa's Botanical Gardens, the Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DGPA) was honored as Equator Prize 2015 winner. The event saw the participation of more than 150 guests, among them national authorities, diplomats, civil society representatives and members of the indigenous communities in DRC. Thirty journalists were present and TV channels broadcasted the event. Speeches were given by the Director to the Ministry of Environment, the Norwegian representative in DRC, Ms. Régine Mboyo, DGPA President, Mr. Valentin Engobo, member of DGPA, and Ms. Priya Gajraj, UNDP Country Director. Ms. Gajraj called for the inclusion of the views of indigenous peoples in all stages of decision-making processes that affect them: "DGPA is a platfrom that thinks globally and acts locally. Their efforts are a source of inspiration for us all to advance sustainable development." The ceremony featured musical and dance performances of traditional indigenous artists.

Further Reference

Please find a full report of the event here.

For a full set of photos, please click here.

GUYANA National Ceremony - 22 April 2016

 

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The South Central Peoples’ Development Association was honored at a national award ceremony in one of the association’s communities, Shulinab Village. The Award Ceremony in Guyana was held on International Mother Earth Day, and coincided with the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Over two hundred residents from sixteen communities in South Rupununi gathered at Shulinab’s Village Benab for a three-hour event filled with cultural presentations and congratulatory messages, including the Vice President of Guyana. Shulinab’s Toshao (or chief), Mr. Nicholas Fredericks, emphasized that the occasion was special since it’s one that was achieved by not one or two individuals but by the entire South Rupununi. The President of the South Central Peoples’ Development Association, Mr. Cedric Buckley, ecstatically pointed out “Today is an historic day for the Wapichan people!” Mr. Buckley highlighted that the sustainable use of forest was not documented by their fore-parents but was handed to them in oral language and practical use. He added that since then, they have been using, managing and protecting the forest.

Remarks were delivered by Vice President and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock and the UNDP Resident Representative in Guyana, Ms. Khadija Musa. Mr. Allicock said “there are a number of ‘firsts’ to be celebrated – the first indigenous peoples in Guyana to win an Equator Prize, the first indigenous peoples to receive a National Award and the first to have official talks between the government and the Wapichan people.” He added the Equator Prize is priceless and the indigenous peoples of Guyana must be proud. He noted that Guyana is once again placed on the global stage and a debt of gratitude is owed to the Wapichan people of the South Rupununi. In the context of the signing of the Paris Agreement and the importance of forest conservation to reach the goals set forth in the Agreement, Ms. Musa reiterated the call by the UNDP Administrator Helen Clark that “no conversation about forests is valid without emphasizing the commitment of the indigenous people to keep the forest intact.”

HONDURAS National Ceremony - 22 April 2016

 

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On Earth Day in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Equator Prize 2015 winners Comité para la Defensa y Desarrollo de la Flora y Fauna del Golfo de Fonseca (CODDEFFAGOLF) and Muskitia Asla Takanka (MASTA) were honored in a national ceremony coinciding with the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. CODDEFFAGOLF has been promoting sustainable development in Honduras for the past 20 years. MASTA has worked for years on the protection of indigenous land rights, and in 2016 received definitive land titles from the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, a landmark victory for the communities represented by the association.

In the presence of representatives from MASTA, CODDEFFAGOLF, and the Secretary of Environment and Mining for the Government of Honduras, Carlos Pineda Fasquelle, Consuelo Vidal, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Honduras commented "It is important to focus on the local level, where the links between social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development are tangible, and where we see some of the clearest examples of successful solutions."

Further Reference

Please find a full report of the event here

Press Articles: M&P Magazine, Proceso Digital, ReliefWeb

INDONESIA National Ceremony - 28 April 2016

 

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The three Equator Prize 2015 winners from IndonesiaKelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung, Komunitas Adat Muara Tae, and FORMADAT – were celebrated at an award ceremony held in Jakarta on 28 April 2016. The ceremony featured a talk show with the winners and an interactive session with the audience which included ambassadors, a former Indonesian minister and students. Muara Tae’s Benuaq Ohokng Sangokng Dayak leader Mr. Petrus Asuy, Belitung community activist Mr. Budi Setiawan and Lundayeh Dayak tribal leader Mr. Lewi Paru of FORMADAT shared their inspiring experiences and answered questions from the audience.

United Nations Resident Representative, Mr. Douglas Broderick, said “Action at the local level is critical for effective mitigation and adaptation to climate change, for building resilience to adverse natural events, and protecting the health of the environment for the benefit of all future generations.”

Remarks were delivered by Mr. Robert Blake, US Ambassador to Indonesia, and Mr. Stig Traavik, Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia. Mr. Traavik highlighted that “We need to combine international science with indigenous wisdom for climate solutions”. The awards were presented to the winners by Indonesian celebrity, actor and model Mr. Reza Rahadian.

Further Reference

Full reports on the event are available in English and Bahasa.

Press articles: CNN, Kompas.

MADAGASCAR National Ceremony - 25 July 2016

 

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To honor Union Soamitambatra from Madagascar, representatives of the winning organization, the United Nations, government, civil society and other community-based organizations gathered in Madagascar's Ministry of the Economy. In the presence of two ministers, Ms. Johannita Ndahimananjara, Minister of the Environment and Mr. Herilanto Raveloharison, Minister of the Economy, the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Violette Kakyomya said "Madagascar is globally known for its rich biodiversity. But this diversity is currently threatened. It has been stated that we only have two decades to save it. This requires a bigger engagement from the government and the partners delivering in the field of environment and development in general."
The Union Soamitambatra was honored to contribute to the solutions to this challenge. The ceremony was followed by a lively debate on how community-based solutions can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The event was complemented by musical performances of traditional Malagasy music, and a photo exhibition on Union Soamitambatra's work.

Further Reference

For a full set of photos, please click here.

MALAYSIA National Ceremony - 20 September 2016

 

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The Equator Prize 2015 winner from Malaysia and Indonesia, FORMADAT, was celebrated at an award ceremony held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. FORMADAT Malaysia Chief Penghulu George Sigar Sultan’s said the alliance owes its success to members who are truly committed in striking a balance between development and conservation, as well as its partners, namely the Forest Department Sarawak and WWF Malaysia and Indonesia.

In the presence of Deputy Chief Minister YB Datuk Amar Douglas Unggah Embas, UNDP Resident Representative Michelle Gyles McDonnough highglighted the achievement of receiving the Equator Prize: "UNDP hopes that by highlighting FORMADAT’s exemplary work, other communities and organizations will be moved to share their local innovations and inspire the world.  As we work to safeguard our planet’s health and improve the wellbeing of our citizens, every action counts, especially when we 'think global, act local'."

Further Reference

A full report on the event is available here.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA National Ceremony - 13 May 2016

 

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In the run-up to the International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May, a national award ceremony to honor Wanang Conservation Area took place in Madang, Papua New Guinea. The event was attended by the leaders from the Wanang Conservation Area Project, representatives from Provincial Government, representatives of the Conservation Environment Protection Authority, local communities, the United Nations and media. “We are delighted to celebrate the success of this unique initiative. It shows the potential of local communities to lead in protecting biodiversity, and by doing so supporting economic empowerment and livelihood opportunities. The United Nations stands ready to continue to provide its support to communities in Papua New Guinea who are making such a valuable contribution to the country’s development and to improving people’s lives”, said Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea.

Further Reference

A full report on the event is available here.

A blog post by Roy Trivedy on the power of local communities can be accessed here.

Click here for press coverage from Loop News.

UGANDA National Ceremony - 21 April 2016

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In Uganda, a national ceremony for Kayonza Growers Tea Factory was held on Thursday, 21 April, gathering representatives from the Government of Uganda, the diplomatic corps including the US Ambassador to Uganda, civil society, the United Nations, academia and the media. Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda described the event as special because it recognized a local community within Uganda that was advancing local solutions to what has now become a global challenge.

“Our goal is to conserve the biodiversity of our entire areas of operation, for example we have planted trees to prevent landslides. These and other activities help us in our fight against degradation and climate change,” Gregory Mugabe, the Chairman of Kayonza Growers Tea Factory said during a presentation on their work.

Mr. Isa Katwesigye, Senior Forestry Officer with the Minister of Water and Environment, representing the Permanent Secretary, presented the Equator Prize to the Kayonza Growers team: “We thank Kayonza Growers Tea Factory for keeping Uganda's flag flying high through its various initiatives towards climate change adaptation.” Katwesige applauded their efforts in reforestation as one of the key elements required to offset carbon and reduce the effects of climate change. Ms. Malango added, “We need to tell this story of Kayonza and others so that Uganda can be known everywhere as the best model on climate change adaptation efforts, particularly those that are community driven”.

Further Reference

Please find a full report of the event here and photos here.