Molokaʻi Initiative Gets Prestigious Equator Prize at UN Climate Change Summit

October 2, 2019, 12:10 PM HST · Updated October 7, 7:11 AM
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Two Hawaiʻi Community Initiatives Awarded Prestigious Equator Prize

During the UN Summit, two Hawaiʻi community initiatives received the prestigious Equator Prize: Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana on Kauaʻi and Maui County’s own Hui Malama O Moʻomomi on Molokaʻi.

The Equator Prize, organized by the Equator Initiative within the United Nations Development Programme, is awarded biennially to recognize outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. These two groups were the first recipients of this prize selected from the United States.

“I am incredibly proud of these two groups, and I’m especially excited for our friends on Molokaʻi,” said County of Maui Environmental Coordinator, Makaleʻa Ane, who connected with the groups in New York City. “As sustainable community initiatives take root throughout the tropics, they are laying the foundation for a global movement of local successes that are collectively making a contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through place-based frameworks such as Hawaii’s statewide Aloha+ Challenge.

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“I look forward to implementing Mayor Victorino’s commitment to develop a Maui County Resiliency Strategy that will incorporate island values, TEK, locally-driven and nature-based solutions to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

For more information on the development of the Maui County Resiliency Strategy or to schedule a community input event please contact Mrs. Ane at (808) 270-8250. For more information on other climate change, mitigation, and resiliency initiatives please visit https://www.mauicounty.gov/142/Environmental-Program.

From left: United Nations Headquarters, seal and flags with Council Member Joey Manahan (City and County of Honolulu), Environmental Coordinator Makaleʻa Ane (County of Maui), United Nations representative, Council Member Villegas (County of Hawaiʻi), Sustainability Coordinator Danielle Bass (State of Hawaiʻi)

County of Maui Environmental Coordinator, Makaleʻa Ane, returned from a recent trip to New York City where she represented Mayor Michael Victorino and Maui County at the United Nations Climate Change Summit.

“The climate crisis threatens to dramatically alter people’s relationships with the land on which they rely,” Ane said. “Meanwhile, many climate solutions are themselves land-intensive, including solar and wind energy, carbon dioxide removal, and strategic relocation. Finding places for people displaced by climate change to live and grow food dramatically increases competition for land, whereas, indigenous populations have historically been pushed to the margins of society and are underrepresented in these discussions.”

Ane attended the United Nations 2nd High Level Local and Regional Government Forum and the High Level Island Event: “Island Values, Local Knowledge, Global Solutions: Catalyzing Partnerships for Implementation.” The events discussed critical topics, including how island communities are the most vulnerable to intensifying wildfires, floods, rising seas, diseases, coral bleaching, droughts and extreme weather.

A resounding theme in this year’s UN Climate Change Summit and associated events emphasized how Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Nature Based Solutions offer a powerful line of defense against harmful current and future environmental change. The two groups provide viable ways to store and reduce carbon emissions by changing the way we protect, manage, and restore our lands, waters and the ocean.

Hawaii’s locally and culturally driven approach to sustainability through the Aloha+ Challenge: measured through an open-data dashboard, inspired dialogue on island models to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and advance an island worldview. The Hawaiʻi contingent that attended Climate Change Week in New York City was comprised of statewide public, private and community representatives.

Ane also attended various events hosted by the New York Bar Association, Global Island Partnership and Local 2030 Islands Network, the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, and the New York Community Trust.

United Nations Headquarters SDG Action zone. Hawaii Contingency with Global Island Partners including County of Maui Environmental Coordinator Makale’a Ane (third from right)

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