“Zhassyl Azyk” to receive UNDP’s Equator Prize, Kazakhstan’s first in historySep 24, 2017
18 September 2017 - Public Foundation “Zhassyl Azyk” has received the Equator Prize in an award ceremony on the 17th of September 2017 in New York. “Zhassyl Azyk” was selected as the recipient of the prestigious award along with fifteen other organizations from twelve countries. This is the first time when a non-governmental organization from Kazakhstan is receiving this honorary prize.
The Equator Prize was founded fifteen years ago by the United Nations Development Programme to honour outstanding indigenous and local community initiatives, advancing local nature-based solutions for sustainable development.
“Zhassyl Azyk” is a public foundation consisting of five farming communities of Kazakhstan working to restore the productivity of low-fertility lands by sustainably cultivating alfalfa. Alfalfa cultivation using simple technologies and limited financial resources serves as an entry point to restore soil fertility, counter the effects of monoculture, promote efficient use of limited water resources, and improve smallholder farmers’ incomes by 20 percent in one year alone.
“Zhassyl Azyk” is an example of how grass-roots foundations can expand economic opportunities for their communities and help save the environment. More than 200 jobs have been created to date through the initiative's work, and the Government has integrated these practices into the National Programme for the Development of the Agro-industrial Complex thus allowing for countrywide scaling up of alfalfa cultivation. “The 2030 Sustainable Development agenda is truly a “people’s” agenda with the focus of leaving no one behind. In this context, it is very rewarding to see initiatives like “Zhassyl Azyk” transform into movements that ultimately empower people and help tackle climate change effects at local levels,” said Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.
The award ceremony has featured two representatives from each Prize-winning organization. The distinguished speakers at the event were Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme; Gary Knell, president and CEO, National Geographic Society; Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice, former President of Ireland; Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), former Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, Japan; Céline Cousteau, Founder and Executive Director, CauseCentric Productions, and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Vice president for Conservation Policy, Conservation International, former Minister of Environment and Energy, Republic of Costa Rica.
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