Ezekiel Accepts UN Environmental Award – 2019 Equator Prize

Ezekiel, representing the Hadza of the Yaeda Valley, collects the 2019 Equator Prize at New York Ceremony

A prominent member of the Hadza hunter-gatherer community of the Yaeda Valley in Northern Tanzania will be collecting the 2019 Equator Prize at a ceremony in New York today, Tuesday 24thSeptember 2019. 

Special Blog by Jo Anderson, Carbon Tanzania Founder and Director

Last week thousands of climate protestors supporting the Global Climate Strike thronged the streets of New York, calling for action on climate change ahead of this week’s UN Climate meeting. On those same streets some people may have been surprised to see a traditionally attired man from the ancient Hadza tribe, complete with bow and arrows, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. What the activists, who were demanding climate action from world leaders at this week’s Climate Action Summit, would not have known is that this traditional hunter-gatherer himself represents one of the communities around the world who are offering solutions to climate change through their own actions.

The Equator Prize is awarded to indigenous groups by the UNDP Equator Initiative for innovative work in developing nature based solutions to climate change and promoting sustainable development.

This man is Ezekiel Phillipo, a leading member of the Hadza communities of the Yaeda Valley in northern Tanzania who, on Tuesday 24thSeptember 2019, will receive a 2019 Equator Prize on behalf of the Yaeda Valley Project. We at Carbon Tanzania are thrilled for Ezekiel and the entire Hadza tribe – the Equator Prize is awarded to indigenous groups by the UNDP Equator Initiative for innovative work in developing solutions to climate change and promoting sustainable development. The Hadza have been recognized for their Yaeda Valley Project, a forest conservation initiative that has been implemented by the communities in partnership with Carbon Tanzania.

The prize is worth US$10,000 to the project and will be presented at the ceremony that is timed to coincide with the 74thSession of the United Nations General Assembly. The winners will join a network of 223 communities from 78 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002.

Ezekiel boarded his first ever flight in Dar es Salaam airport last week, arriving in New York on Friday, after which he has been able to sample life in the United States. He has attended several preliminary sessions organized by the UNDP who oversee the Equator Initiative, and on Sunday 21stSeptember he was a participant in the Forests Day event organized by Carbon Tanzania partners The Nature Conservancy. While the experience is likely to be intense and overwhelming at times for Ezekiel, he will doubtless do a fine job of representing the Yaeda Valley Project, a project that demonstrates how indigenous people can be powerfully effective stewards of natural landscapes, the sustainable management of which, also known as a “nature-based solution”, is now accepted as being a critical component of fighting climate change.