An alliance of indigenous communities in North Kalimantan has received a prestigious award from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for its dedication to environmental conservation.
The UN body named the group, Forum Musyawarah Masyarakat Adat Taman Nasional Kayan Mentarang (Assembly Forum of the Kayan Mentarang National Park Indigenous People), as one of the recipients of the 2020 Equator Prize – an award given to communities that have made tremendous contributions to environmental protection.
The announcement coincided with the commemoration of World Environment Day observed every June 5.
The alliance, known locally as FoMMA, comprises 11 local indigenous groups that are spread across an area of around 20,000 square kilometers. It successfully advocated for the first comanagement arrangement for a national park in Indonesia, where government and indigenous people collaborated in resource management and access as well as use rights.
According to a statement from UNDP Indonesia, as a winner, FoMMA will receive a US$10,000 prize and the opportunity to join a series of special events associated with the UN General Assembly, the UN Nature Summit and the Global Climate Week in late September.
The group, alongside other winners, will join a network of 245 communities from 81 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002.
This year marked the eleventh cycle of the UNDP Equator Prize and focused on the theme “Nature for Life”. The award recognizes 10 local and indigenous communities from across the world for their innovative initiatives that demonstrate exceptional achievements in the area of nature-based solutions for local sustainable development, the UNDP said on its official website.
This year's winners come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico and Thailand. This year was the first time the Equator Prize had been be awarded to groups from Canada and Myanmar.
“As our natural world faces a range of unprecedented challenges, the Equator Prize lifts the curtain on a range of exceptional nature-based solutions pioneered by local communities and indigenous peoples,” UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said, as quoted in the statement.
“Indeed, as countries move to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic, these innovative ways to protect ecosystems, biodiversity and tackle climate change are more important than ever – I expect that the incredible efforts of the Equator Prize winners will have a ripple effect across the world.”
The Equator Prize has been supported by notable world figures, including Nobel Prize winners Al Gore and Elinor Ostrom, thought leaders Jane Goodall and Jeffrey Sachs and celebrities such as Edward Norton, Alec Baldwin and Gisele Bündchen, the statement read.
This year, the winners were selected from a pool of 583 nominations from more than 120 countries by an independent technical advisory committee of internationally renowned experts. The selection was based on community-based approaches that provide a blueprint for replication and scaling solutions to address the world's biodiversity crisis, UNDP Indonesia said in the statement.
FoMMA is not the first Indonesian groups to win the award. In 2019, Indonesia’s Dayak Iban Sungai Utik Long House from West Kalimantan won the Equator Prize for successfully conserving about 9,500 hectares of land near the source of the Utik River in the province.
Four years earlier, the Dayak Benuaq tribe from Muara Tae village in West Kutai, East Kalimantan, also won the 2015 Equator Prize Award for protecting its forests from the encroachment of palm oil companies and coal mining firms.