- Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), visited on Friday the Socotra archipelago to present the Equator Prize to the Rosh Protected Area Community, the UNDP Yemen Country Office has said in a statement.
The Rosh Marine Protected Area community on the island of Socotra won in July 2010 the biennial Equator Prize for the community’s outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The Equator Initiative, a United Nations-led partnership that supports local and indigenous efforts in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation, recently announced the twenty-five winners of the Equator Prize 2010 following an extensive technical review process.
Among the winners was the Rosh Protected Area Community from Yemen.
On 20 September 2010, representatives of winning communities attended the Equator Prize 2010 Award Ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York during a High-Level event entitled, Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Climate Change: Scaling Up Local Solutions to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The event, which was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly and MDG 2010 Review Summit attracted over 500 participants.
For logistical reasons, the Rosh Community could not participate in the Equator Prize 2010 Award Ceremony. Accordingly, the UNDP administrator decided to present the Prize to the Community herself, in Socotra.
“We know that many local and indigenous communities have been able to convert their environmental assets into sustainable livelihoods without compromising the environment for future generations,” said Clark during the ceremony.
“The Equator Prize celebrates their efforts. Prize winners show us that it would be a false choice to say either development progress or conservation of our eco-systems and biodiversity. We can do both. And we must do both”, she added.
The ceremony was attended by Ms. Amat Al-Alim Al-Soswa, UNDP Regional Director for Arab States, Mr. Abdul-Karim al-Arhabi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs -Planning and International Cooperation Minister, Abdul-Rahman al-Eryani, Water and Environment Minister, Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UNDP Resident Representative, local authority representatives and CSOs.
Rosh is a Marine Protected Area located off the northern coast of Socotra, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Yemen.
Socotra is a World Heritage site, renowned for its 825 plant species (37 percent found nowhere else) as well as its highly endemic reptiles and snails and rich marine life.
Rosh traditionally belongs to the Sacra and Diherhom villages. The villages have benefited from increased fish stocks and other marine resources, in addition to the benefits of ecotourism revenues.
Rosh Community was established in response to demand from local villagers for direct control over the marine protected area. A committee has been established to manage the campsite and other conservation activities.
The initiative follows principles of environmental responsibility, including the use of solar panels for energy and sustainable water management.
The initiative started as an eco-campsite and conservation area to address decreases in fisheries production and to counter an attempt by the coastal land-owner to sell off the territory, thereby depriving villagers of direct management over the marine resources.
The campsite has created new jobs, functions on a benefit-sharing enterprise, and uses solar panel technology and sustainable water management techniques.
In addition to being celebrated at the Equator Prize 2010 Award Ceremony, Rosh Protected Area Community received a monetary award of US$5,000.
Rosh Community hailed the visit of the UNDP administrator and the continuous support of UNDP. They confirmed to the UNDP administrator that this Prize will encourage them to continue their efforts to reduce poverty by conserving biodiversity.