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Six community and indigenous people organizations supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme were honored yesterday at the Equator Prize award winning ceremony held at the Town Hall Theater in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. Organized by the Equator Initiative and attended by more than 1,500 people, the ceremony recognized 15 outstanding local and indigenous community initiatives, including six GEF Small Grants Programme partners, for their contributions to the protection of the global environment and promotion of sustainable development. The winners were selected from 806 nominations across 120 countries by an independent Technical Advisory Committee comprised of internationally renowned experts through a rigorous peer-review process.

                   Naoko at Equator Prize 2017 edited              Equator prize 2017 12    

                     Left to right: Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson for the Global Environment Facility addressing the audience at the ceremony. Winners of forest category on stage.

"If we look around the world, local communities and indigenous people have continued to manage the commons very well. We need to learn from them how to manage the commons again. The G.E.F is deeply committed to supporting indigenous peoples and local communities. Through the Small Grants Programme that the GEF supports, we have provided technical and financial support to over 20,000 communities in 126 countries. Many of these projects advance sustainable development through nature-based solutions. In this regard, I am so glad and proud that six of the Equator Prize winners tonight are recipients of the Small Grants Programme" said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson for the Global Environment Facility in her remarks at the ceremony.

The organizations supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme with grant funding as well as technical support, that received the Equator Prize include:    

            Equator prize 2017 6     Equator prize 2017 10    Equator prize 2017 17   

              Left to right: SGP grantees from Belize, Brazil and Ecuador receiving their awards

• Community Baboon Sanctuary Women's Conservation Group – CBSWG, Belize

Led by women from seven communities in the northern coastal plain of Belize, the CBSWG was established in 1985 as a private protected area to protect one of the few, healthy populations of the Black Howler Monkey, locally called Baboon, in Central America. Since 2001, SGP has been providing technical and financial support to CBSWG through six consecutive grants. The first three grants focused on improving capacity of CBSWCG to manage the protected area and to strengthen partnerships with other agencies working in the area to ensure the protection of the “baboons” and other vulnerable wildlife populations. The following grants focused on enhancing the sustainability of the organization and improving income generating activities to the communities in the area.

• Associação Terra Indígena Xingu – ATIX (Xingu Indigenous Land Association), Brazil
SGP supported ATIX through its partnership with Amazon Fund (BNDES) to improve the honey supply chain and get certification. It won the prize as it is the first community-based organization to achieve organic certification in Brazil. ATIX produces two tons of certified organic honey each year to generate income, maintain vibrant indigenous culture, and promote traditional sustainable livelihoods in the 27,000 km² Terra Indígena Xingu.

• Organización para la Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag – DECOIN (Organization for the Defense and Ecological Conservation of Intag), Ecuador
DECOIN, an organization active in the Intag Valley for over 20 years, provides essential support to communities resisting mining interests, conserving over 12,000 hectares of Andean biodiversity and advancing alternative livelihood options for 38 communities. SGP Ecuador has been working as a partner of DECOIN since 1997 and has been supporting several communities and organizations in the Inta Valley in the production of agroecological products and sustainable livelihoods.

           Equator prize 2017 Kazastan receiving award    Equator Prize   Thailand receiving Prize   Equator Prize Kenya receiving award

             Left to right: SGP grantees from Kazakhstan, Kenya and Thailand receiving their awards

• Obschestvennyj Fond “Zhassyl Azyk” (Public Foundation “Zhassyl Azyk”), Kazakhstan

SGP supported the Zhassyl-Azyk Public Foundation in their efforts to restore degraded lands with improved agricultural practices that reduce water consumption and improve soil fertility, including the sustainable production of alfalfa. “Zhassyl Azyk” is the first organization from Kazakstan to win the Equator Prize for providing scalable solutions that address global challenges of food security, land degradation, water scarcity, and adaptation to climate change.

• Mikoko Pamoja, Kenya

SGP supported this organization in their mangrove conservation efforts. Mikoko Pamoja brings together two communities in Gazi Bay in Southern Kenya to sell carbon credits from mangrove conservation, trading 3,000 tons CO2-equivalent per year in the voluntary carbon market. Mikoko Pamoja is the first community-based project of this kind in the world to successfully trade mangrove carbon credits. 

• Community Mangrove Forest Conservation of Baan Bang La, Thailand
After their 192-hectare mangrove forest protected them from a devastating tsunami, the community of Baan Bang La rallied to secure forest management rights, a process which has ensured long-term mangrove protection, increased populations of endangered species, strengthened disaster resilience, and generated opportunities for small-scale business owners.

                               Equator  all winners on stage

“We are incredibly proud of our community partners that work hard to protect precious ecosystems and natural resources while also contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals“ said Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager of the GEF Small Grants Programme.

              Yoko with Ecuador winners                Equator prize 2017 Kazastan

                Left to right: SGP Global Manager with communitoes from Ecuador and Kazakhstan

The winning organizations received US$10,000 and the opportunity for a community representative to join a week-long summit in New York during the 72nd United Nations

Picture Credits: Ana Maria Currea