Tuesday, September 29th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: For their efforts in preserving their traditional territories and resources, the Maya people of Belize, represented by the Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA), have been awarded the 2015 Equator prize, according to the Oak Foundation.
The prestigious award highlights the efforts of indigenous people in Belize in gaining protection of their traditional territories and resources. The award will be given at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December of this year.
The Maya Leaders Alliance won concessions from Government in court affirming their rights in all 39 indigenous communities in the Toledo District to their historically occupied lands. Traditional land rights constitute property equally legitimate as any other form of property under Belizean law. It is the first such victory for indigenous peoples in the Caribbean region.
The Government has been charged with implementing the decision, and has indicated that a Commission will be set up to develop the relevant aspects. However, some Maya still advocate for individual land title.
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