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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced the seven winners of their Equator Initiative awards on Saturday (31 August) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and in a last-minute act of generosity said that each of the 27 finalists would be awarded US$30,000.

The winning community-based projects were chosen from a list of 420 nominations from around the tropics, with the aim of highlighting partnerships that successfully achieve both poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation.

The top seven projects include a Brazilian group that has developed techniques to commercially produce a medicinal plant extract, and a network in Fiji that manages 10 per cent of the country's inshore marine area. By recognising these grassroots contributions to sustainable development, the initiative aims to encourage and support other such activities around the world.

"[The World Summit on Sustainable Development is not] about the global community talking endlessly about standards and obligations. Sustainable development is done individual-by-individual, community-by-community. It's about confronting common problems in communities by people innovating solutions on their own," Mark Malloch Brown of the UNDP is reported to have said.

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