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Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Group win international award

Posted: Thursday, October 5, 2017. 2:09 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group (CBSWCG) located in Bermudian Landing Village are being celebrated locally as winners of the Equator Prize 2017 with a local ceremony planned to be held in the Belize District soon.

The Equator Prize is awarded biennially to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage.

The CBSWCG was one of fifteen outstanding indigenous and local community groups from twelve countries, which have demonstrated innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment, and climate challenges.

The winners were selected from among 806 nominations submitted by communities across 120 countries.

The work of CBSWCG contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals # 1-No Poverty; #5 – Gender Equality; #13 -Climate Action and #15- Life on Land.

 A high-profile award ceremony was held on the September 17th, 2017 at the Town Hall Theater in New York City where the CBSWCG was recognized internationally.

The Community Baboon Sanctuary lies in the northern coastal plain of the Belize River Valley and was established in 1985 as a private protected area to protect one of the few, healthy populations of black howler monkeys.

The 6,000-Hectare Community Baboon Sanctuary brings together 240 landowners each of whom voluntarily participate in conservation efforts through a pledge system.

The sanctuary has produced a sustainable land management plan that has environmental, economic and social benefits that extend well beyond protected area and include maintaining interconnected wildlife corridor integrity and a comprehensive sustainable natural resource management strategy.

A micro-credit fund has spawned projects in sustainable cohune oil harvesting, tilapia farming, community tours, organic agriculture, and livestock rearing while the Bel-riv Commerce and Eco-Tourism Expo, created by the group in 2013, offers improved market access for farmers, small-scale entrepreneurs, and artisans.

The successful protection of the sanctuary under the steadfast management, and stewardship of the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group, and the memberships has led not only to an increase in the baboon monkey population from 800 in 1985 to 6,000 in 2011, but also to the recovery of vulnerable populations of jaguar, ocelot, margay, puma and over 200 species of birds.

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. Since 2002, the partnership has awarded the prestigious Equator Prize to over 208 local and indigenous communities around the world.

The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) was Belize’s first winner in 2002 and The Maya Leaders Alliance of Southern Belize in 2015.

The GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by UNDP has been providing technical and financial support since 2001 to CBSWCG through six consecutive grants.

The first three grants focused on improving institutional capacity of the CBSWCG to manage the protected areas and to strengthen partnerships with other agencies working in the river valley area to ensure the protections of the “baboons” and other vulnerable wildlife populations. The following grants focused on enhancing the sustainability of the organization and improving income generating activities to the communities in the area.

“I never believed that we could receive this prestigious award for our voluntary work, this international recognition is certainly a motivation for us to continue the work of protecting the environment and supporting sustainable livelihoods of our people”, said Jessie Young, the founder and president of the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women`s Conservation Group (CBSWCG).

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, UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall and celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Edward Norton, was held for the ninth time in 2017.

Each winning organization, including the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group, received a grant of USD $10,000 to support its innovative & inspiring landscape work in the Belize River Valley area.

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