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Published on: July 21, 2021, 2:55 p.m.
Two Indian organisations win UNDP prize
  • Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company: the 1,700-shareholder co-operative

By Business India Editorial

The UNDP biennial award, which recognises community efforts to reduce poverty through biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, has been awarded to two Indian organisations. Snehakunja Trust and Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited were among the 10 award winners.  They were bestowed the award for their work in the fields of conservation and biodiversity, said the UN Development Fund (UNDF).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presents the biennial award to recognise community efforts to reduce poverty through biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

The UNDP said in a statement that: “Two communities from India bag this year’s prestigious UNDP Equator Prize, for their exceptional achievement in showcasing local, innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling biodiversity loss and climate change and achieving their local development goals.

Adhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited is a 1,700-member cooperative governed and overseen entirely by indigenous people from the Tamil Nadu Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Over the past eight years, their work has improved livelihoods through a diverse range of processing and commercialisation of forest products and crops in 147 villages.

Due to the addition of local value, members are paid premium prices on a variety of products, such as coffee, pepper, soy cotton, cereals, spices and fruit, as well as honey, soap nuts, berries and phoenix leaves. The UNDP statement said shareholders monitor regular harvesting and farm practises to ensure product quality and avoid overuse of resources.

For 45 years, the Snehakunja Trust has protected delicate coastal wetlands along the Karnataka coast as well as ecosystems in the western Ghats, with the aim of community-based restoration and conservation, the UNDP statement read. It has also supported hundreds of self-help groups and forest village councils to implement sustainable resource management using traditional knowledge, natural agriculture techniques and clean energy. The Trust promotes enterprise and offers community-based health services, the UNDP Statement added. The first blue carbon project of the country is currently being led by the trust.

“We need a profound transformation in our economic and development models that will drive forward the protection and restoration of our natural world,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, adding that this year’s winners “demonstrate that this transformation was already happening”.

The winners received $10,000 as well as the opportunity to participate in a series of special virtual activities related to the United Nations General Assembly, the Nature for Life Hub, and the United Nations Food Systems Summit, later this year. The virtual award ceremony will take place on 4 October, 2021.


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