February 25, 2011
Congratulations to Nepal: A sustainable development project in Nepal and a forest conservation initiative in Guatemala tied for this year’s Sasakawa Prize, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced on Tuesday.
The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, recognizes the most innovative, groundbreaking and sustainable grassroots environmental initiatives in developing countries.
The Nepali recipient, Manahari Development Institute in Nepal (MDI-Nepal) won for recognition of “Forests for People, Forests for Green Growth”, a project in support of the 2011 International Year of Forests.
The theme highlights the central role of forests in the pursuit of a global ‘green economy’ as key economic resources whose real value has all too often been excluded in national accounts of profit and loss, according to UNEP.
Estimates from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) indicate that deforestation and forest degradation are likely costing the global economy between $2.5 and $4.5 trillion a year, more than the losses of the recent and ongoing financial crisis.
MDI-Nepal, a non-governmental organization founded in 2001, has introduced agroforestry to help improve crop productivity and water irrigation systems as well as reduce soil erosion on the forested hills and mountainous areas.
Apart from making up most of the country’s land mass, the slopes are also home to 18 million people. The agroforestry measures have significantly improved food security and living standards of the rural communities living on the steep slopes of Nepal, said UNEP.