Day 13 - February 20, 2004
Equator Prize 2004 Awards Ceremony
Today was a day of sharing and celebrating not only the prizes that were awarded last night, but also the two weeks that brought many new friends, new ideas, and new stories that will last a lifetime. After meeting shortly after 10:00 am His Royal Highness Fun Ngum performed a traditional closing ceremony. Although everyone is tired from the two weeks and long for friends and family back home, everyone feels strongly about making a final statement expressing how the experience has moved and changed them.
One after another participants rose to share the personal impact of being part of the COP7 and an Equator Prize finalist. The emotional account of the arrival in Kuala Lumpur, the confusion over where to go, and finally meeting all of the other community delegates and beginning the journey together was similar across cultures and continents. Everyone expressed how much they have learned, what they will take back to their communities and the desire to work together in the future. The theme throughout the conference has been one of unity in the Community Kampung and a minute of silence was taken to remember all those who have lost their lives in the battle for local rights and environmental causes. Most importantly, the overwhelming message was not about winners and losers, but the importance of making a stand together and the reality that they are all winners to have been selected as finalist and given the opportunity to experience the conference in Malaysia and make valuable connections, friends and colleagues.
Following the messages of the community members Mr. Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager of the GEF Small Grants Program stood to acknowledge the hard work of all the communities and the desire to secure funding for all finalists. While seven SGP country offices had already committed to contributing to the lasting success of their local communities, it was just a matter of time before all would have further funding. The excitement was uncontainable as people cheered in response. Those who weren't selected as winners expressed extreme joy at the opportunity to bring such good news back to those colleagues and friends who helped make their initiatives a success back home.
The few remaining items left in the Kampung were removed and people collected mementos that had decorated the space for the past weeks. Although some community delegates were able to sell the goods they brought, most were given as gifts in expression of sincere gratitude to all to who made the space a reality. A final evaluation and feedback session was held so that the next awards conference can be an even greater success. As community members began to prepare for flights that were as early as the approaching evening, everyone felt the bitter-sweet sense of joy for new friends, future possibilities and a once in a lifetime experience now concluded.