The 13th Equator Prize Award Ceremony honored 10 local and Indigenous communities from 9 countries across the world. The global award ceremony was held virtually on 30 November 2022 and garnered over 9,000 live viewers. The winning organizations showcase innovative nature-based solutions that enable communities to achieve sustainable development and foster green livelihoods, even in a time of economic, environmental, political and public health shocks. Each Equator Prize winner was awarded a cash prize of USD10,000, in addition to USD5,000 to further scale up their initiatives, thanks to the valued partnership between the Equator Initiative and the Sall Family Foundation. The 2022 winners were recognized for championing effective solutions in the following categories: Creating a Planetary Safety Net; Redefining our Relationship with Nature; and Creating a New Green Economy.

See the recording of the full event here as part of the 2022 Nature for Life Hub.

EP Winners 2022 Placeholder
EP Winners 2022

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The ceremony was opened by a joyful blessing from the Equator Prize 2022 winning community Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative, and the People of Yazori in Ghana. Through the festive Ashiaa dance, the assembled community chanted their thanks to U

Acting as Master of Ceremonies for the event was journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker Nelufar Hedayat. She welcomed the audience by honoring the inspiring ways in which each of the Equator Prize 2022 winners are demonstrating the power and effectiveness of local action and how they are successfully setting in motion the transformations needed to achieve a nature-positive future. “We are here to celebrate the outstanding nature-based solutions that ten Indigenous and local communities around the globe champion and that inspire all of us as we look for answers and a path forward in combating the global crises we are facing.”

Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, officially opened the ceremony by emphasizing the importance of working in harmony with nature, and with the Indigenous peoples and local communities that steward it. “Humanity has spent far too long trying to bend nature to our will. Indigenous Peoples and local communities need more tangible support and the role of women in local sustainable development is paramount, especially given that they govern about a third of the planet and are proven to be effective nature stewards.”

Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative

Winners of the Equator Prize 2022

Nelufar Hedayat

Master of Ceremonies, journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker

Achim Steiner

Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

Prize category: Creating a Planetary Safety Net

Indigenous Climate Activist and Founder of the Movement of Indigenous Youth of Rondônia, Txai Surui, introduced the “Creating a Planetary Safety Net” thematic category by highlighting the crucial work of Indigenous peoples and local communities in protecting and restoring life on earth through their traditional knowledge and practices. 

"The healing of our planet will only happen with the wisdom of Indigenous women and men, and with the actions of local communities and Indigenous Peoples around the world. We should all listen to them and support their nature-based solutions.” And also, Txai urged that, “the forest is speaking, the earth is speaking, she is telling us that  we have no more time. She tells us that we need to work with our forests, our rivers, our fields, our oceans - to heal them, and to help her create a safety net for the planet.”

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RED TICCA "Territorios de Vida en Argentina" - Argentina

This network of seven Indigenous groups across Argentina promotes the “Buen Vivir” (Good Living) by integrating Indigenous knowledge into public policy. “We achieve our goals by organizing politically across the country to ensure that our network sees its rights recognized and protected under the law. Women are an integral part of the protection of nature, of mother Earth, and of our ancestral knowledge. Thanks to women’s crucial work, we are contributing to the preservation, conservation, management and governance of Argentinian Indigenous territories.”

Organización de Mujeres Indígenas Unidas por la Biodiversidad de Panamá (OMIUBP) - Panama

Indigenous women-led community work is key to the success of OMIUBP. The organization works to promote gender equality, intergenerational equity, and ecosystem conservation in Panama. “We are passionate about creating opportunities for women, so that every day they occupy more and more space: space in decision making, inside and outside of the communities, for the benefit of our planet, and for their own empowerment. We are Indigenous women with wisdom, strength, identity, and struggle.”

Mbou-Mon-Tour (MMT) - Democratic Republic of the Congo

MMT enthusiastically accepted the prize highlighting how their successful work conserving wildlife is characterized by the mutual emphasis on biodiversity protection and free, prior, and informed consent of the local population. “Indigenous peoples and local communities are the first actors to be counted on for biodiversity conservation and the fight against climate change. For us to succeed at our work, we must put at the center the well-being of our communities and valorize the Indigenous peoples that have allowed us to live in harmony with nature.”

Community Statement:
A Message to World Leaders

A powerful community statement drafted and delivered collaboratively by all ten prize-winning communities in their own local languages, concluded the first segment of the ceremony. The winning communities called on world leaders to recognize their Indigenous wisdom and traditional knowledge as an integral part of solving the planetary emergency affecting all. The winners highlighted their own longstanding efforts applying nature-based solutions and acting sustainably for people and the planet, but they also reminded all how strong commitment and support from decision-makers is needed to trigger global deeper transformations. The video concluded with an urgent call to action to world leaders to do their part in addressing the existential issues of climate change and biodiversity loss: “We ask you to join us, in choosing nature for life. ”


Prize category: Creating a New Green Economy

Kristine Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia and Cofounder/President of Tompkins Conservation, opened the “Creating a New Green Economy” thematic category by encouraging corporations and world leaders to recognize that doing good for the planet and business is not an irreconcilable paradox, but an imperative.

Let’s face it - we desperately need a global revolution changing the way we think about nature and our global and even local economies. There will be no healthy economy in the absence of healthy ecosystems.

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Associação Bebô Xikrin do Bacajá - Brazil

In a captivating acceptance speech, Bebere Tekakmeiti Xikrin, president of the organization, called on the world to join Indigenous peoples in their fight against deforestation and for their recognition as stewards of their forests. “The struggle of the Indigenous people is the struggle for survival, the struggle for rights and equality, the struggle for life. When we talk about preserving the forests, we are not just thinking of ourselves, but of the whole planet. We hope that the world understands that our cause is just and benefits everyone. We want everyone to know that Indigenous life matters. We are the true defenders and protectors of the forests, the rivers, and wildlife.”

Sunkpa Shea Women's Cooperative - Ghana

Ibraima Memuna, chairperson of Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative, proudly received the prize emphasizing how they strive to make international commodity supply chains more sustainable and just. Their work demonstrates the importance of empowering women financially, while showing the impacts of that on ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation. “We are a group of women who came together to improve our livelihoods through sustainable Shea nut harvesting and Shea butter production. We started as a group of small cooperatives that came together to establish the Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative. By working hard together, we women knew that we could contribute meaningfully to serve our families, our communities, and the planet.”

Mauberema Ecotourism, Nature Conservation, Education, Research & Training Center (MENCERTC) - Papua New-Guinea

Ida Elisabeth Hellmark, Senior Adviser, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), delivered a heartfelt statement reiterating the longstanding support of NORAD to the Equator Initiative and the nature-based solutions spearheaded by Indigenous peoples and local communities. Ida stressed the global importance of the Equator Prize and its winners, stating, “we value the role the Equator Initiative plays in creating a space where communities, civil society, governments and the private sector can come together and celebrate creative solutions to our planetary challenges.”

Ohter Session

Ida Elisabeth Hellmark, Senior Adviser, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), delivered a heartfelt statement reiterating the longstanding support of NORAD to the Equator Initiative and the nature-based solutions spearheaded by Indigenous peoples and local communities. Ida stressed the global importance of the Equator Prize and its winners, stating, “we value the role the Equator Initiative plays in creating a space where communities, civil society, governments and the private sector can come together and celebrate creative solutions to our planetary challenges.” 

The segment closed with an original music performance of Point V Massangou, a group of Bwiti musicians and dancers, performing in the Lambaréné temple in Gabon.

Ida Elisabeth Hellmark

Senior Adviser, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)

Point V Massangou

Bwiti musicians and dancers

Prize category: A New Nature Economy

Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue and a National Geographic explorer at large, opened the “Redefining our Relationship with Nature” thematic category by highlighting the urgent need to make peace with nature so that humanity finds a sustainable place for itself within the planet’s natural boundaries.

We are at a crossroads on this planet. We cannot have a secure future without first securing the health of all life on earth, including the ocean.

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Ocean Revolution Moçambique - Mozambique

António Sacramento de Cabral, Director of the organization, highlighted the importance of creating links between economic prosperity and conservation in addition to emphasizing how successful protection of the environment depends on the actions supported and created by the community.  “Finding, guiding, and connecting local leaders is conducive to building a conservation ethic that preserves biodiversity and species abundance. Our work is building on the traditional knowledge of our local community to create a conservation model that best serves Mozambican scientific research, tourism, the environment, and, most importantly, our community.

Coordinadora Nacional para la Defensa del Ecosistema Manglar (C-CONDEM) - Ecuador

C-CONDEM is a community-led initiative that fights for the protection and the sustainable management of coastal marine territories. They emphasized the role mangroves play in the economic, cultural and social dimensions of their lives. “We promote community action for the recovery of the mangrove ecosystem and its biodiversity as we also preserve historical memory, knowledge, and ancestral practices. A dignified life in coastal marine territories begins with the care of culture. Since we were children, we learnt to live in the mangrove, because we are nature and we always return to nature. The mangrove is the natural industry that God gave us to work in.

OELO - Gabon

While accepting the prize, OELO announced its aspiration to not only replicate its sustainable freshwater fisheries management plan in other lake communities around Gabon, but also to expand its initiative dedicating efforts to protecting forest. “Lake areas are not the only critical ecosystems we urgently need to conserve: We plan to extend this community-based initiative to forest lands, reclaiming ancestral forests to protect and manage for future generations. Together, we can protect our lakes, our forests, and redefine the world’s relationship with nature!

Associação Rede de Sementes do Xingu - Brazil

The organization was recognized for its achievements in forest restoration through the collection and diversification of commercial seeds. This created opportunities and improved livelihoods for the 25 Indigenous communities in the network. “We ensure that our communities witnessing the effects of climate change every day are taken seriously and get consulted on how to best fight the biodiversity loss that is affecting them and the whole world. More than 560 seed collectors from diverse backgrounds, histories, cultures, and languages collect seeds year after year to reforest areas of the Brazilian Amazon and the Cerrado, and to promote autonomy and generate income in communities.

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DJ Alok, DJ and Musical Producer from the Brazilian Cerrado, in concert with Indigenous rtists Mapu Huni Kuî, Yawanawa and Owerá MC closed the Equator Prize 2022 Award Ceremony with a dynamic performance streamed from the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

P a r t n e r s

The Equator Prize 2022 Award Ceremony was possible thanks to the Equator Initiative partners: