BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 03 October '15

Group that inspired Avatar among the 21 winners of UN prize

A Brazilian indigenous group that inspired the film Avatar, a conservation outfit in Indonesia that is saving sea turtles and a movement for pygmy rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among the 21 winners of a UN prize recognising outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty, protect Nature and strengthen resilience in the face of climate change.

P.E.A. Awards shortlist – the shortlist has been announced for green heroes across the UK – and beyond!

Backing indigenous peoples

The winners of the 2015 Equator Prize were announced by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) at a press conference in New York that also featured Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and actor and activist Alec Baldwin.

The other winners are from Belize, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ethiopia/Kenya, Honduras, Madagascar, Malaysia/Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Uganda. The award was given to groups from Afghanistan, Guyana and Iran for the first time.

‘These winners show what is possible when indigenous peoples and local communities are backed by rights to manage their lands, territories and natural resources.’

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

The ‘true face’ of sustainable development

Speaking at the press conference, Helen Clark noted that this year’s winners ranged from those who have used drones and smartphones to individuals using organic agriculture, peaceful conflict resolution and advocacy through media.

Some have succeeded in securing land rights and resource access for hundreds of communities, she added. Between them, their actions have protected forests, fields, coastlines and waterways from degradation and destruction. In the process, thousands of sustainable jobs have been created for communities.

‘This is the true face of sustainable development. The achievements of Equator Prize winners tell us something fundamental: that low-cost, innovative, local solutions do help the world battle climate change and realise sustainable development.’

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

Indigenous groups and climate goals

Noting the importance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, Ms Figueres stressed the vital role of indigenous groups and local communities in assisting the world in reaching its collective climate goals.

‘The agreement governments will reach in Paris will be a crucial catalyst for sustainable development in the 21st century – everyone, from governments, cities and companies to local and indigenous communities have an interest and everyone has a role to play in bending down emissions and building resilient societies.’

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

$10k prize

Alec Baldwin commended the efforts of the ‘remarkable’ group of winners and stated that the ‘world is in awe of their leadership and bravery.’

This year’s winners were chosen from a record 1,461 nominations from across 126 countries. Each winning group will receive $10,000 and is able to participate in a two-week community summit during the Paris conference, where the awards will be handed out at a star-studded gala.

Click here to find out more about the Equator Prize.