Wanang Conservation Area Awarded Equator Prize in Madang

May 16, 2016

UN Resident Coordinator handing Equator Prize Award the clan leader - Phillip Jonah, Wanang Conservation Leader

Madang, March 13, 2016 - Wanang Conservation Area community members received the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Prize award from the UN Head in Papua New Guinea in recognition of outstanding contribution to environmental conservation, poverty reduction and climate action.

The celebration takes place in the run-up to International Day for Biological Diversity, observed annually on May 22 and highlights the importance of biological diversity for eradicating poverty, providing food and fresh-water and improving the well-being of people.

The ceremony event took place in Madang on 13th of May and follows up to the High-level award ceremony that took place in December 2015 in Paris at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21). The local ceremony event, organized by UNDP, was attended by the leaders from the Wanang Conservation Area Project, representatives from Provincial Government, representatives of the Conservation Environment Protection Authority, local communities, the United Nations and media.

Wanang Conservation Area is one of twenty-one community initiatives from across the world that were awarded the prize in 2015, selected from 1,461 nominations from 126 countries.

Developed in response commercial logging pressures and a lack of public services, the Wanang Conservation Area is an alliance of 10 indigenous, rainforest-dwelling clans that together protect 10,000 hectares of forest for biodiversity research, carbon storage and sustainable livelihoods. The initiative maintains a “forest dynamics plot”, where the project has planted more than 280,000 plants to study the responses to changing climatic conditions. A research station (one of the largest in the country) serves as a capacity building hub, where Wanang villagers and students are trained as para-ecologists and research technicians.

The research station enhances communication between the local population and research scientists, provides a source of livelihoods and supports environmental learning. The initiative has become a model for community-driven conservation and development in the country and is a powerful example of partnership between a self-governed community, local NGOs, government and research institutes.

“We are delighted to celebrate the success of this unique initiative. It shows the potential of local communities to lead in protecting biodiversity, and by doing so supporting economic empowerment and livelihood opportunities. The United Nations stands ready to continue to provide its support to communities in Papua New Guinea who are making such a valuable contribution to the country’s development and to improving people’s lives”, said Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea attending the awards ceremony.

“Long makim maus bilong Wanang Community, mi laik tok bikpela tenkiu long UNDP long dispel luksave long conservation i kamap long community blg mipela na i givim dispel Equator Price long yia 2015.  Bikpela tenkiu tu i go long New Guinea Binatang Research Centre long wok bung wantaim Wanang community na mekim dispela luksave blg conservation i go long olgeta narapela kantri long wol”,  said Jonah Philip, Wanang Conservation Representative.

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