Shashwat Congratulated for Winning UNDP’s Prestigious Global Equator Prize

10 May 2013

Pune, India - “We are in a development paradigm where government action needs to be complemented by community action to address the challenges we face,” said Prithviraj Chavan, Honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He was speaking at a felicitation ceremony today in Pune to congratulate Shashwat, a Maharashtra-based NGO that was awarded the UNDP Equator Prize 2012. This prestigious international award recognizes innovation and leadership in community-based sustainable development. 

According to the Chief Minister, “When interventions are nurtured by local communities and combined with technology, modern management practices and appropriate state action, increasing the speed of sustainable development can become a reality.” 

Addressing the grave water crisis in the state, the Minister called for “a strategy in favour of decentralized water storage systems managed by local communities.” He commended the work of unsung heroes such as Shashwat, which had worked tirelessly with local communities in building sustainable livelihoods. 

Shashwat was selected from 812 nominations in 113 countries in recognition of its outstanding work in developing sustainable livelihoods for marginalized tribal communities displaced by the Dimbhe dam. 

Speaking at the felicitation ceremony, Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said, “Shashwat’s work demonstrates how local action is a remarkable engine for achieving development goals in ways that empower communities, promote equity and inclusion, and conserves ecosystems.” 

Shashwat has helped displaced communities develop small-scale fishing activities in the dam’s reservoir and improve agricultural production on cultivable land, much of which is on steep slopes. With Shashwat’s support, tribal farmers and fish workers have conserved forest resources and adopted land use practices in the Dimbhe dam catchment that are directly contributing to environmental sustainability.

The results of Shashwat’s work are impressive. The reservoir has been stocked with fish and local fishing families have obtained fishing leases, boats, and nets. Fish workers are now harvesting fish on a sustainable basis and have begun to access wider markets, increasing their household incomes. 

According to Anand Kapoor, Co-founder of Shashwat, “Societies and governments should take a close look at the sustainable development initiatives and frugal lifestyles of remote small communities as they hold important lessons for combating climate change.”         

Shashwat was awarded the Equator Prize on 20 June 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Shashwat also received a special prize for water. 

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. For more information on the initiative and the complete list of prize winners, log on to: www.equatorinitiative.org 

The Equator Prize, which has been endorsed by former Heads of State, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Oscar Arias, philanthropist Ted Turner, a host of Nobel laureates, and celebrities Gisele Bündchen and Edward Norton, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2012. 

Contact Information

Srinivasan Iyer, Srinivasan.iyer@undp.org 

Nandita Surendran, Nandita.surendran@undp.org; 9810084776 

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Shashwat: Building Sustainable Livelihoods for Tribal Communities

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