Inaugural Seed Awards Honor Sustainable Development Entrepreneurs
NEW YORK, New York, April 22, 2005 (ENS) - The first biennial Seed Initiative awards to Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (Seed) were made in New York on Wednesday during the 13th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The new sustainable development awards are the outcome of an international competition to find the most promising new locally-driven, entrepreneurial partnerships.
The Initiative is a partnership between IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), along with the Global Public Policy Institute, and Partnerships Central. It is supported by the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, by the UN Global Compact, and by the company Swiss Re.
An environmentally friendly method of growing rice, and a project to cultivate a berry found high in the Himalayas are among the winners. They are joined by a community based marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, an innovative water supply scheme in Bolivia, and a power plant in Nigeria that turns cattle waste into energy.
The winners were selected from more than 260 entries from 66 countries, representing 1,200 organizations. They were chosen for their potential to advance sustainable development in their communities and contribute to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. All winning projects have the potential to be replicated in similar areas around the globe, helping to address a multitude of issues in the developing world.
German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said, “Looking back at the first steps of the Seed Initiative, we were eager to see whether our idea of creating an award for sustainable development partnerships would stand the test of reality. But after the official launch during the World Economic and the World Social Forum at the beginning of last year and the inaugural call for submissions, the feedback was so overwhelming, and the quality of submissions so high that we all knew we were on to something important."
Paula Dobriansky, U.S. under secretary of state for global affairs, said, "Partnerships, such as Seed, are vital to helping local communities improve the quality of their citizens' lives and can make an important contribution to our efforts to achieve development goals. The five winners we recognize tonight exemplify the fresh new approach to sustainable development launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Step by step, public-private partnerships such as these are having tangible results as we work globally to alleviate poverty.”
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said, “The time for talking is over. The time for action is now. If we are to deliver sustainable development, achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and overcome poverty we need partnerships. Partnerships between people, NGOs, private businesses, local authorities, governments and the United Nations. UNEP’s motto is environment for development. These Seed winners are living proof of what can be done if we harness the most powerful assets we have – human creativity, ingenuity and imagination."
Achim Steiner, director general of the IUCN, said, “In the coming years, Seed will work closely with the winners – to support the partnerships, learn from their experiences and spread the results of that learning to help multiply these practical models. Through our collective networks, we will nuture this inaugural class of award winners and future entrepreneurs in their efforts to find innovative solutions to local challenges.”
The first Seed Award winners are:
Commercial rice cultivation in the developing world suffers from low market prices and the financial and environmental costs of using water, chemicals and fertilizers. Some farmers in Cambodia, Madagascar and Sri Lanka have turned to a production method known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI).
SRI works without flooding rice paddies and results in stronger plants that need less chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Rice produced in this way commands higher prices.
The trick is to empower and assist producers to exploit and benefit from these premium prices in local and international markets. This new project, which has brought together research institutes from the United States and Cambodia and farmers organizations, is pooling experiences and skills to develop strong marketing programs. Export markets in Europe and North America are also being explored possibly using, in some cases, certification schemes like Fair Trade.
The Seed Award for this winning partnership is sponsored by Swiss Re, Switzerland.
Seabuckthorn is a deciduous shrub that is common in the Himalayas. It has a highly developed root system that binds soils on fragile slopes. The presence of a natural seabuckthorn forest can decrease monsoon-related loss of topsoil by 30 percent.
The international HimalAsia Foundation together with local Tibetan cooperatives and a family of traditional medical practitioners are developing a sustainable program for cultivating and marketing seabuckthorn and other medicinal plants for the local and international market.
They are developing sustainable livelihoods for local people and conserving biodiversity in this Himalayan mountain area. Plans for the future include expanding on three existing seabuckthorn nurseries, training locals in the extraction and preparation of juice, and helping to broker fair business relationships between international companies and local communities.
An estimated 11.5 percent of the Earth’s land surface is now held in protected areas but only about one half percent of the world’s seas and oceans enjoy the same rights. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Plan of Implementation called for the establishment of representative network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
An experimental, community-led, scheme in Madagascar, focused around the 1200 people living in Andavadoaka, is balancing the needs of local fishermen and protection of the area’s coral reefs. Eco-tourism is being promoted as a way of generating income for conservation work, diversifying the local economy and to reduce the pressure on fish stocks.
The Agua Para Todos (Water for All) initiative in Bolivia has found a way of solving the problem of who pays for secondary water networks - delivering water from the municipal supplier’s main pipe to the consumer.
Under the project, a consortium of local communities, an NGO and a pipe manufacturer is building water distribution systems in coordination with the municipal water company in Cochabamba, each connecting between 100 and 500 poor households.
The costs are being met by the communities concerned through a micro credit scheme, repayable within a year. Five pilot projects are under way, already halving the cost of water for 3,000 people in Cochabamba. Ambitious plans currently under development would provide 17,000 connections serving 85,000 people over the next five years.
Effluents and waste products from abattoirs are a problem for human health and the environment across the developing world. A project being piloted in Ibadan, Nigeria, is turning these wastes into energy to generate income for poor urban communities and reduce the gases linked with climate change.
The project treats the abattoir wastes and turns them into a bio-gas suitable for cooking and other uses. A further by-product is agricultural grade fertilizer.
The partnership behind the project claims their bio-gas is significantly cheaper than current, commercially available, liquefied gases. The scheme will cover its costs and become profitable in three years. It has a 15 year life expectancy.