, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – Three social and environmental projects in Africa, two from Asia and one in South America have been named the winners of the 2009 SEED Gold Awards.
The prize recognizes promising, locally driven start-up enterprises that work in developing countries to improve livelihoods, tackle poverty and manage natural resources sustainably.
A press release from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Regional Office for Africa, said: "The 2009 Gold Winners, selected by an international jury are an association of small-scale women farmers in Zimbabwe who are striving to reverse severe land degradation through organic farming; a Bangladeshi NGO that has developed a low-cost solar lantern made from recycled parts of the kerosene lantern and an association in Colombia that has set minimum environmental standards for local miners."
Other winners are civil society organizations in South Africa and India that are training indigenous communities to develop profitable bio-cultural products and institutions in Niger that have developed sustainable solid waste management systems to keep cities clean.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The SEED Gold Winners show us that a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy is as much a developing country and rural community issue as it is a developed country one. These genuinely inspiring initiatives are generating multiple economic, social and environmental benefits and being achieved often against enormous odds. The challenge now is to scale them up."
The winners will receive individually-tailored business and partnership support services, worth $35,000, for up to one year to help them become established and increase their impact.
The prize includes access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, meeting new partners and building networks, developing business plans and identifying sources of finance.
"The specific nature of the support is decided by each winner, hence tuning it to local needs – SEED helps locate and provide the services required, drawing mainly on local know-how and expertise and well as national and international networks," explains the statement.
Kofi Nketsia-Tabiri, Regional Manager of E+ Co Africa and a member of the Seed Award selection jury, said: "These initiatives are truly innovative, driven and hosted by the local community with a strong potential for success and scale up. They represent inspiring examples of how sustainable entrepreneurship can bring change to the developing world. It is for these reasons they deserve the status of Gold winner."
The SEED Initiative is a global network founded in 2002 by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments made at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. SEED works through a global network of Partners, Supporters and Associates.
The initiative identifies, profiles and supports promising, locally-driven, start-up enterprises working in partnership in developing countries to improve livelihoods, tackle poverty and marginalisation, and manage natural resources sustainably.
The Initiative also develops learning resources for the broad community of social and environmental entrepreneurs, informs policy- and decision-makers, and aims to inspire innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to sustainable development.