Whitley Alumni win major awards

2013 winner Zafer Kizilkaya and his team at the Mediterranean Conservation Society were awarded the 2014 Equator Prize  at a ceremony held at the Lincoln Center on 22nd September.

Zafer Kizilkaya receiving his Equator Award
Zafer Kizilkaya receiving his Equator Award

The ceremony was hosted by UNDP and partners in support of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The renowned prize recognised Zafer and his team for their work to involve local fishing communities in the management of a network of marine protected areas in Gokova Bay, south-eastern Turkey.

Over 2,400 people attended the event to celebrate indigenous and local communities working to meet climate and development challenges through the conservation and sustainable use of nature. Zafer was one of only 35 winners selected from 1,234 entries from 121 countries.

The Equator Prize is awarded biennially, with each winner receiving $5,000 (USD) to help advance sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

Meanwhile, 2007 Associate Award winner Bibiana Vilá has won the highly prestigious MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity 2014, recognising her work on the conservation of wild vicuñas in the Andean altiplano. Through the integration of both traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous communities and scientific research, Bibiana has implemented conservation measures that enable the sustainable use of the economically-valuable vicuña fleece, benefiting both local communities and vicuña populations. Environmental education is also a key component of her work, teaching the next generation about the vicuña, its habitat and importance to local people.

The MIDORI Prize is co-organised by the AEON Environmental Foundation and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The biennial prize honours three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to conservation and sustainable use at local and global levels, and who have developmentally influenced various biodiversity-related efforts, as well as raising awareness about biodiversity. Each winner receives a prize of $100,000 (USD).