Chris Patterson, Program Officer for Institutional Development at EcoLogic, traveled to Brazil in June to attend Rio+20 with Zumilda Duarte, a community leader of our partner organization, AJAASSPIB. AJAASSPIB is the Spanish acronym for the Association of Water Committees of the Southern Sector of Pico Bonito National Park. EcoLogic helped towns in Northern Honduras establish this coalition of community water boards in 2003, so the local people would be better able to protect and restore their watersheds and fresh-water delivery systems. It has been a very successful effort, so much so that the United Nations Development Program chose AJAASSPIB as one of twenty-five organizations world-wide to win the Equator prize, awarded to “recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.”
Chris and Zumilda attended a number of panels and workshops organized for the Equator prize winners, and events culminated on Wednesday, June 20 with an award ceremony attended by more than 1,700 people and which had as masters of ceremonies Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, and Camila Pitanga, Brazilian actress and environmental advocate. Chris and Zumilda were both happy to meet dignitaries and celebrities, but most appreciated mingling and getting to know the representatives from the other prize winning initiatives. “We had meetings and brainstorming sessions with dozens of organizations ranging from a community group from Colombia that creates and sells artisanal products made from recycled materials, to a Guatemalan woman’s group that focuses on organic agriculture and women’s health,” observes Chris. “We’re confident the relationships we’ve begun here, will lead to future collaborations and opportunities that further our mutual conservation goals.