Indigenous groups and local communities honored at 2015 Equator Prize award ceremony

December 8, 2015

Five indigenous people organizations supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme were honored yesterday at the Equator Prize award winning ceremony in Paris.

The event, held on the margins of the COP21 climate talks, recognized 21 outstanding local and indigenous community initiatives, including five GEF Small Grants Programme partners, for their contributions to the protection of the global environment and promotion of sustainable development.

Speaking at the event at the Mogador Theater, GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, said, "Indigenous peoples and local communities have generations of experience interacting with the environment.  This experience helps them cope with the effects of climate change. The Equator Prize is about showcasing and upscaling these inspiring initiatives that are built on indigenous knowledge, values and practices." Read Naoko Ishii's Opening Remarks.

UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark also addressed the ceremony (read the address) that was attended by more than 1,000 people and organized by the Equator Initiative and partners. The winners were selected from 1,461 nominations in 126 countries by a Technical Committee comprised of international experts through a rigorous peer-review process.

The five winning organizations supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme with grant funding as well as technical support, include the:

  1. Rural Green Environmental Organization in Afghanistan for their work promoting a model of community development that is based on peace building, environmental regeneration, sustainable livelihoods and wildlife protection; 
  2. Yunnan Green Watershed Management Research and Promotion Center for their work on participatory watershed management; 
  3. Umbrella Group of Naghadeh NGOs for their work in wetland restoration, adaptation to droughts, farm irrigation and sedimentation in canals in Lake Urumia; 
  4. Kelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung for their model of community-based coastal management of coral reefs, mangroves, fishing zones and tropical forests, and the 
  5. South Central Peoples Development Association for their innovative land use plan and a “living digital map” of their traditional lands to promote secure land rights and socio-ecological resilience.

The event was hosted by actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin who congratulated the communities for what they do for the world, and featured high-level speakers including primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall. The event showcased videos about the work done by the communities and closed with a lively performance of Grammy Award-nominated musical duo from Mali Amadou & Mariam.

Click here for full coverage of the event including photos and videos.