Ethiopia’s Apis Agribusiness and Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Center Take Home Top Solution Search Prizes
Amid powerful calls to move forward with Paris climate pledges during COP23, Rare spotlights and celebrates creative local innovators in climate-friendly agriculture
In Godesburg Castle in Bonn, Germany, Solution Search celebrated the top 10 finalists and prize winners of its fourth contest, Farming for Biodiversity. Apis Agribusiness and National Disaster Risk Reduction Center Nepal (NDRC Nepal) took home the contest’s People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice grand prizes, respectively.
Hosted by Rare in partnership with IFOAM-Organics International and the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, the awards ceremony took place during COP23, the 23rd annual “conference of the parties” under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In COP23, Farming for Biodiversity found a fitting setting to spotlight and celebrate climate-friendly farming solutions from around the world.
Throughout the first half of November, COP23 convened governments in Bonn to discuss next steps for pushing forward with the 2016 Paris Agreement, and the work nations will have to do stay on track with their pledges to reduce human impact on the environment (carried out in nationally determined contributions, or NDCs).
Rare seeks to help the countries where we work, including the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Mozambique, Colombia and China, accomplish their goals to reduce impact by providing climate-friendly solutions in farming and fishing. Rare’s solutions work to build social, economic and ecological resilience to climate change, and aim to help communities mitigate climate change through ecosystem conservation and restoration.
This year, Solution Search: Farming for Biodiversity sought local innovators whose work offers new insights to advancement of the same mission. Crowdsourced from around the world, these innovators have created and carried out unique solutions that bring farming in harmony with the surrounding natural environment, and increase the biodiversity of plants, animals, insects and other life within essential ecosystems.
Farming for Biodiversity called for submissions that promote changes in human activity to safeguard biodiversity, while enabling sustainable harvests and ensuring food security. 10 finalists emerged from among 338 submissions: A Growing Culture (Vietnam), Apis Agribusiness (Ethiopia), CanopyBridge-EcoDecision (Ecuador), Desarrollo Alternativo e Investigación A.C. (Mexico), Fairventures Worldwide (Indonesia), Fundación Ecotop, Manor House Agricultural Centre (Bolivia), National Disaster Risk Reduction Center Nepal (NDRC Nepal), Sustainable Income Generating Investment Group (SINGI, Kenya), and the Mountain Institute (Peru).
During the awards ceremony on November 14, Solution Search announced winners of a number of prizes, including $30,000 grand prizes, the People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice awards, and $15,000 category prizes, with awards for specific excellence in the areas of biodiversity, community and social impact, food security and nutrition, and water.
The Solution Search judges, a panel of experts from conservation, development, media, finance and other sectors, selected Nepal’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Center as the winner of the $30,000 Judge’s Choice grand prize. To combat pollution in the Banganga River Basin, NDRC Nepal has worked with the government and non-governmental stakeholders to promote adoption of sustainable practices, and executed a public awareness campaign that reached more than 14,000 indigenous households.
“It was really fantastic,” said Dr. Dhruba Gautam, Executive Chairperson of NDRC Nepal, on winning. “Though we were able to win the prize last night as NDRC, the real prize was won by the communities, who were not able to attend here in Bonn.”
This prize is solely dedicated to the people of Banganga River Basin, who we have been working with. After winning the prize last night, we felt more responsibility to the communities we are working for.Madhu Gautam, NDRC Nepal’s Program Director
Ethiopian finalist Apis Agribusiness, a sustainable, organic honey business led by Jony Girma, took home the $30,000 People’s Choice grand prize, after winning an online vote open to the public. Through education and technical support, Apis Agribusiness empowers local unemployed youth in the Ethiopian village of Kundi to protect their forests and adopt sustainable livelihoods by learning how to harvest organic honey. “It was amazing,” said Jony, on winning. “Solution Search is an innovative way to collect ideas and solutions for biodiversity. 338 solutions coming from all over the world is really amazing. It’s a great opportunity to share the experiences of others. We may be able to use their solutions in our countries, to solve our biodiversity problems.”
Alongside the ceremony, finalists gathered in a capacity-building workshop. During the two-day workshop at Drachenfels Castle, partners, finalists and judges came together to share their experiences and perspectives. The workshop’s goal was to provide an interactive and collaborative setting where finalists could receive additional skills, knowledge and networks to scale their solutions moving forward.
Solution Search is a great way to communicate what you’re doing. This is key for people like us, that are sometimes working alone. It’s important to spread the word and have this international exposure, to actually step up and try to change our reality based on our local contexts.Kevin Farrera of Desarrollo Alternativo e Investigación A.C. and finalist
The finalists were able to meet, connect with one another, and exchange lessons learned from their local efforts in a peer-to-peer learning process. They also engaged with global experts from agricultural practice, policy and research, giving the experts space to share advice and learn about innovative local solutions directly from their leaders. “It was great to hear insights, not only from the people who are working in the field, but also from the people who are working on the policies,” said Kevin Farrera.
Solution Search is part of a larger project run in joint partnership by Rare, IFOAM-Organics International, and the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat and is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), a German initiative supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
Over three years, the partners will work together to identify promising solutions and host capacity-building workshops across the globe to spread them. The workshop series, known as Campaigning for Conservation, will aim to further empower local practitioners to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and conduct social marketing campaigns promoting behavior change in support of the identified solutions. Going forward, all who entered this year’s contest will become part of a larger network of stakeholders engaged in supporting biodiversity-friendly agriculture.