Winners of First-ever Government of India-UNDP Biodiversity Awards Announced
Recognizing outstanding community participation and stewardship in biodiversity management
Hyderabad - At a ministerial reception hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests during the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the India Biodiversity Awards were presented by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Government of India and Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator. The Awards recognize outstanding models of biodiversity governance across the country.
According to Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests, Government of India, “Conserving biodiversity and harnessing it on a sustainable basis is critical for realizing development goals. Biodiversity governance in India needs to enable this on a sustained and equitable basis.” Welcoming the support of UNDP as a partner, the Minister announced that the India Biodiversity Awards will now be an annual feature, to mark International Biodiversity Day on May 22 each year.
The awards recognize good practices in India - from community-run institutions, local self-governance bodies, joint forest management committees and protected area management agencies engaged in preserving designated protected areas.
Importantly, they celebrate the central role played by communities who are at the heart of any effort to conserve biodiversity. Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament and Chairman Emeritus of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation led an eminent jury for the Awards.
Speaking at the Awards ceremony on October 17, Grynspan said, ““The winners of the India Biodiversity Awards represent innovative approaches that combine the basic needs of livelihoods, wellbeing and dignity while respecting biodiversity conservation and the earth’s limits.” She added, “India has evolved a range of biodiversity governance models that demonstrate the importance of biodiversity strategies that create positive opportunities for development.”
The variety of India’s biological diversity and resource-use patterns has given rise to a range of approaches to biodiversity governance. These governance models balance conservation and development and are relevant for other countries in the world.
Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, India stressed that “Strong cooperation between the government and civil society is key to promoting biodiversity conservation.”
The winners are Pir Jahania Jungle Suraksha Samiti from Odisha in the community stewardship category; Shankarpur Village Gram Panchayat from Maharashtra in the category of decentralized management; Van Utthan Sansthan from Rajasthan in the category of co-management; and Periyar Tiger Reserve in the protected areas category.
Note to Editors: About the Selection Process
The India Biodiversity Awards acknowledge the valuable work undertaken by champions of biodiversity at the grassroots and it is fitting therefore that these Awards were announced at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.The Awards aim to address the relationship between biodiversity loss, livelihood challenges of local communities and sustainable development.
The India Biodiversity Awards received 150 nominations from across the country based on a widely publicized call for nominations. An eminent six-member jury chaired by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan evaluated the submissions. Desk review was followed by on-site visits to assess and validate these nominations based on parameters including effectiveness of biodiversity conservation, benefits to local communities and institutional sustainability. Each of the four recipients of the India Biodiversity Awards received a cash prize of INR 100,000. Jury members were: Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor, Institute of Economic Growth; Kailash C. Malhotra, fellow of the Indian National Science Academy; Balakrishna Pisupati, Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority of India; Vishwas B. Sawarkar, former Director of the Wildlife Institute of India; and J.S. Singh, Professor Emeritus, Banaras Hindu University.