Green Watershed Awarded Equator Prize in Beijing

Apr 22, 2016

Jan Wilhelm Grythe, Representative from the Government of Norway, Yu Xiaogang, Director of the Green Watershed Initiative and Patrick Haverman, Resident Representative a.i. of UNDP

Beijing, 22 April, The Yunnan Green Watershed Management Research and Promotion Center was celebrated as a winner of the Equator Prize 2015 at a ceremony held in Beijing, in recognition of its outstanding contribution to environmental conservation, poverty reduction and climate action. It is one of twenty-one community initiatives from across the world that were awarded the prize in 2015, selected from 1,461 nominations submitted by communities in 126 countries.

The award ceremony coincided with the signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN Headquarters, by more than 100 Heads of States and Governments. This landmark agreement represents a major step forward for world- wide climate change mitigation, with 165 countries committing to the agreement.  Today, the award ceremony in Beijing highlighted the role and importance of local communities in achieving the goals set by the Paris agreement.

“Today we focus on the local level where the links between the social, economic and environmental strands of sustainable development are tangible and where we see some of the clearest examples of successful sustainable development,” noted Patrick Haverman, Resident Representative a.i. of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China during his opening remarks.

The Green Watershed initiative was formed in response to a 1998 Lashihai dam project that flooded large areas of farmland and left the Yi indigenous people displaced, the Yunnan Green Watershed Management Research and Promotion Center has become a model of indigenous self-organization and participatory watershed management.

The group responded to displacement by founding four autonomous organizations for sustainable resource management, each of which have achieved remarkable results: two watershed management groups (which have brought mudslides under control, used agro-forestry to increase incomes ten-fold over 10 years, and protected over 1,300 hectares of mountain forest), a fishing association (which has banned illegal nets and recovered the local fishing industry) and a water users association (which has successfully managed water access and negotiated fair upstream and downstream water use).

Agroforestry, ecological cropping, animal husbandry, sustainable fisheries and the sound management of water resources have all improved local incomes and food security and strengthened resilience in the face of droughts.

The director of the Green Watershed initiative, Mr. Yu Xiaogang, emphasized the important work of the organization, “We are grateful to UNDP for having inviting us to the high-level dialogue during COP21 in Paris which allowed indigenous people to express their expectation of climate action to the international community.”

The ceremony in Beijing followed the recognition of Green Watershed on the global level at a high-level award ceremony on 7 December 2015 in Paris, France, during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21).

Each winning organization received USD 10,000 $ and two representatives from each community participated in workshops and events at COP21. In statements delivered at the award ceremony, community representatives stressed the urgent need for better representation of indigenous peoples and local communities in decisions on land tenure and management of natural resources.

The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the UN, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. Since 2002, the partnership has awarded the prestigious Equator Prize to 208 local and indigenous communities around the world.

Green Watershed has been supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme. A video on Green Watershed’s work is available here.

A complete list of Equator Prize 2015 winners can be found here. To access videos on all winners, please click here.

Contact information

Ms. ZHANG Wei, UNDP China Chief Communications Officer

Tel: +8610 8532 0715,



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