A simple fact: the greatest concentrations of biological wealth are found in the world's tropical rain forests, yet these same places also have some of the highest levels of poverty. The good news is that communities are charting a path toward sustainability, creatively using biological resources for food, medicine, shelter and improved livelihoods in ways that raise incomes and protect the environment.
UNDP has announced the finalists for the 2006 Equator Prize. They include a womens association in Burkina Faso that produces organic shea butter - tripling incomes for 3,000 women and girls and helping plant 20,000 new trees, a Filipino organization that has helped promote conservation and restored 117 acres of wetlands, and a partnership between 14 indigenous communities in Peru that is working to prevent illegal logging and hunting in 150,000 acres of rain forest. Check out the full list.
In 2002 UNDP launched the Equator Initiative. This innovative program champions and supports community efforts to link economic development and income generation with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It includes:
- Equator Ventures - a venture fund that invests in local small businesses
- Equator Dialogues - a platform for local voices that celebrates the success of community action in achieving the MDGs
- Equator Knowledge - which helps academics, ngos, and communities share knowledge about environmenta; sustainability and fighting poverty
- Equator Prize - a biennial award to recognize outstanding communities from developing countries in the tropics that demonstrate in practical terms how efforts to conserve biodiversity can also reduce poverty