Mitandao Wajamii Wa Usimamizi Tanzania wins 2015 Equator Initiative prize

Oct 1, 2015

At a press conference held on Monday, September 21st   in New York, Mitandao Wajamii Wa Usimamizi Tanzania (MJUMITA) along with 20 other winners, was recognized with the Equator Prize for their leadership on land rights, forest protection and advocacy for environmental justice. The Equator Prize is an international award that recognizes outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty, protect nature and strengthen resilience in the face of climate change.

MJUMITA is a national network of community-based forest management groups that provides capacity building, communications and advocacy support for local communities with the aim of improving their participation in the management and utilization of local forests.

“These winners show what is possible when indigenous peoples and local communities are backed by rights to manage their lands, territories and natural resources,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).   

 “The bottom line is that land rights for indigenous people are good for the climate, good for sustainable development,” Ms. Clark added. “Forests and wildlife are protected, landscapes are managed to provide for food and water security, jobs are created and local people are empowered.”   

The 21 winners were chosen from a record 1,461 nominations from across 126 countries. International experts guided a rigorous, months-long process to select the winners. The Equator Prize is unique for recognizing collective action, rather than individual achievement.

Equator Prize winners each receive US$10,000 and will send representatives to join a two-week community summit in Paris during COP21. They will be celebrated at a star-studded gala event on 7 December 2015.

MJUMITA is a constantly expanding federation that has 80 affiliated community networks and members in 450 villages in 23 districts across Tanzania. Since its inception, MJUMITA has directly worked with 15,000 members on community-based forest management activities.  The network has helped several villages secure customary land rights to their forests, resolve land disputes and design land-use plans for the sustainable and equitable use of forest resources.  

The Equator Prize 2015 was also awarded to indigenous peoples and local groups from Afghanistan, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia/Kenya, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Madagascar, Malaysia/Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The Equator Prize is the flagship program of the Equator Initiative, a partnership that brings together the UN, governments, civil society, businesses, and grassroots organizations to advance sustainable development solutions.

Partners of the initiative include the governments of Norway, Germany, Sweden, and the United States, as well as Conservation International, Convention on Biological Diversity, Ecoagriculture Partners, Fordham University, International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, PCI-Media Impact, Rare, UN Environment Programme, UN Foundation and UNDP.

For more information on Mitandao Wajamii Wa Usimamizi Tanzania, or to find summaries on all the winning communities, please visit www.mjumita.org and www.equatorinitiative.org

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