Guinea-Bissau and Brazil projects receive UN environmental award

Environment programs developed by native communities in Guinea-Bissau and Brazil received a UN award. The projects gained prominence by involving local people and indigenous peoples and received the Equator Prize, which distinguishes innovative solutions to address the challenges of climate change. The award was presented to the Kisêdjê Indigenous Association, the Roraima Indigenous Council of Brazil, and the management board of Guinea-Bissau’s Urok Community Protected Marine Area (AMPC).

The award ceremony took place at a gala in New York and is the first time an initiative from the African country has won the award. “Every day thousands of local communities and indigenous peoples around the world silently implement innovative, nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said the UN Development Program (UNDP) administrator in a statement, Achim Steiner.

Native Communities and Environment

UNDP highlighted the work done by the Urok project, a group of three islands in the Bijagos archipelago. The council uses traditional knowledge to protect 54,500 hectares of critical marine ecosystems and mangroves to mitigate climate change, reduce coastal erosion and ensure sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples in the region.

“The Urok community, local management structures and conservation institutions that have supported this process are to be congratulated for their vision, belief, and spirit of commitment,” said Miguel de Barros, executive director of the Tiniguena Environment Association and member of AMPC Urok Management Committee.

Barros recalled that the process began in 1999 “with a lot of effort”, was made official in 2006 and “culminated in the construction of a ‘resilience laboratory’ that holds hopes for the country and teachings for the continent and the world.”

Kisêdjê Indigenous Association Photo: UN

In Brazil, the Kisêdjê Indigenous Association is in the state of Mato Grosso, which UNDP considers “one of the most deforested states in Brazil.” an innovative business model that uses ‘pequi’, a native tree, to restore landscapes, promote food security and develop products for the local and national markets. ”

As for the Roraima Indigenous Council, UNDP says this indigenous alliance has secured the rights to 1.7 million hectares of traditional land for 55,000 indigenous peoples. At the same time, it promotes ecological and social resilience through the conservation of traditional varieties.

The Award

The award, which has been around since 2002, has already been awarded to Nobel Prize winners such as Al Gore and Elinor Ostrom, environmentalists Jane Goodall and Jeffrey Sachs, philanthropists Richard Branson and Ted Turner and celebrities Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin, and Gisele Bündchen. The winners were selected from a group of 847 candidates from 127 countries.

The ceremony took place at a gala in New York. UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Program Executive Director UNEP, Inger Andersen, and actors Oona Chaplin and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attended.

According to Achim Steiner, the Award is a recognition of these ideas and a way of showing the power of people and communities to achieve true change.

In 2019, UNDP highlighted 22 innovative and nature-based solutions to address the challenges of climate change, the environment, and poverty.