The UNDP Equator Initiative Prize honours indigenous and local authorities for their outstanding achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

This year, we are delighted to join our partner, Gaia Amazonas, in sharing the news that local indigenous organisation ACIYA – formed by communities along the Apaporis River, and accompanied by Gaia Amazonas, part of the successful COAMA programme, since 1992 – was selected as an Equator Prize winner and given special recognition.

ACIYA has been carrying out community research within their Yaigojé Apaporis indigenous territory and National Park, as both a conservation and human rights initiative. The research is aimed at developing a special management regime for the National Park – established on their territory, as documented in our story “Yaigoje Apaporis, threatened by gold mining” – and contributes to the construction of new conservation paradigms grounded in traditional Amazonian knowledge.

Maximiliano Tanimuca Letuama, coordinator of the research group, explained that their goal is to: “transmit traditional knowledge to the younger generations and to protect our ancestral territory.”

The efforts and resources of us all are needed to respond to global challenges like climate change,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in her address to the audience. “Those we honor tonight show how indigenous and local communities can lead the way. They are on the front lines of the struggle for sustainable development.”

The award ceremony was held on 22nd September, on the eve of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, in the Avery Fisher Hall auditorium in New York. Thirty-five local and indigenous community groups received awards. An audience of 2,500, including Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Jane Goodall, UN Goodwill Ambassadors, other celebrities and international media.

Visit the UNDP Equator Intitiative website for more information about the event and the Equator Prize 2014 winners.