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Andavadoaka Village in Madagascar Wins United Nations Equator Prize for Community Conservation

Village leaders honoured for conservation work with Blue Ventures and other NGOs

The village of Andavadoaka, Madagascar – location of Blue Ventures’ conservation research centre – was announced a winner of the prestigious Equator Prize at the United Nations headquarters in New York today in recognition of the village’s extraordinary work to diminish poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Andavadoaka, a remote fishing village of just 1,200 people located along Madagascar’s southwest coast, received the award for its work with Blue Ventures, Madagascar’s University of Toliara and WCS-Madagascar to develop community-run marine protected areas across the region. Andavadoaka was chosen from more than 300 nominations from 70 different countries.

“Andavadoaka’s incredible accomplishments – and its recognition by the United Nations – shows the vital link between healthy and biologically diverse environments and the creation of sustainable livelihoods,” said Alasdair Harris, Director of Scientific Research for Blue Ventures. “It proves that environmental protection can – and must – go hand in hand with economic development.”

Represented by community members Georges Manahira and Daniel Raberinery of Blue Ventures, Andavadoaka will receive international recognition at The Equator Prize’s official award ceremony in Berlin, Germany, on World Environment Day, 5th June 2007.

 “We are so grateful the United Nations recognizes the importance of sustainable development for communities around the world,” said Raberinery. “The people of Andavadoaka rely on healthy and productive marine systems for daily survival. I hope this award raises awareness of how communities can work to protect both people and nature.”

In addition to international recognition for its work and an opportunity to help shape international policy and practice in the field, the community of Andavadoaka will receive US $30,000 to support local development initiatives.

UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş said of the winners, “The proliferation and scaling up of efforts such as these is critical to the achievement of our common goals to conserve biodiversity, respond to climate change and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

Said Dr. Iary Berthine Ravaoarimanana, Madagascar’s ambassador in London: “Over recent years, Blue Ventures Conservation has worked closely with the village of Andavadoaka in protecting some of Madagascar’s most critical and threatened marine areas. This unique partnership is working to ensure that Madagascar’s incredible marine resources remain healthy and productive for generations to come.”

“The Equator Prize recognizes the devoted work of men and women to the cause of saving our planet from ecological disasters. Through their work, they are demonstrating that good ecology is also good business.  Thus they serve as torch bearers of the movement for sustainable human happiness,” noted Professor M.S. Swaminathan, Equator Prize jury member and former president of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences of India.