FORMADAT & UNDP hold symposium to commemorate Equator prize win

Sep 20, 2016

Kuching, SARAWAK: To commemorate a global recognition for their work, a symposium was held to showcase best practises on community livelihoods and sustainable development by highlanders from Sarawak and Sabah.

Persatuan Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo (FORMADAT) and UNDP Malaysia organised a half-day symposium at Hilton Hotel which was graced by Deputy Chief Minister YB Datuk Amar Douglas Unggah Embas together with UNDP & FORMADAT representatives.

The symposium was held to celebrate FORMADAT’s first international award, the UNDP Equator 2015 Prize, which it received in Paris on 7 December last year. FORMADAT received the prestigious award under the Eco agriculture and Food Security category, for their outstanding works in empowering the livelihood of their community.

The UNDP Equator Prize is a biannual international award that recognizes outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

The symposium featured two prominent speakers from WWF-Malaysia and UNDP Malaysia. Mr. Jayl Langub, FORMADAT Advisor and WWF-Malaysia Trustee spoke on Safeguarding Community Homelands and the Importance of Sustaining Community Livelihood in the Highlands –Rivers and Forests; while UNDP Assistant Resident Representative, and Head of Programme ai, Mr. Asfaazam Kasbani inform the audience on Sustainable Development Goals.

In FORMADAT Malaysia Chief Penghulu George Sigar Sultan’s welcoming speech, he said the alliance owes its success to members who are truly committed in striking a balance between development and conservation, as well as its partners namely Forest Department Sarawak and WWF-Malaysia and Indonesia which provided guidance and support since 2004.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UNDP Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam said, “To receive the Equator Initiative award is no small feat. The work of FORMADAT deserves every inch of the recognition that they received in the star studded event on December 7, 2015 in Paris. UNDP hopes that by highlighting FORMADAT’s exemplary work, other communities and organizations will be moved to share their local innovations and inspire the world.  As we work to safeguard our planet’s health and improve the wellbeing of our citizens, every action counts, especially when we “think global, act Local”.

Besides sustainable rice farming, FORMADAT and its partners are also advocating for sustainable ecotourism activities, which among others, resulted in a series of community land-use zoning activities and capacity building workshops for villagers to identify potential areas for tourism and improve local guides’ competency.

George said, “FORMADAT was also working with Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to train up the highlanders on social entrepreneurship. Another notable on-going conservation efforts are rivers adoption and tree planting programmes.”

FORMADAT through selected villages in Long Semadoh has adopted 71 rivers and streams that feed into the rice fields. They put signage at the headwaters of these rivers to inform the public, especially timber companies of their importance and adoption.  It is in a way a warning not to alter the landscapes of these rivers. The idea behind the adoption of rivers and streams is two pronged: to ensure clean water for domestic use and for the rice fields as well as for the integrity and health of the forest.

George added that Long Pa’ Sia’ is undertaking a tree-planting project – planting indigenous species along the rivers and streams that feed into the rice fields.

“I want to mention with gratitude the support and advice from WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia. Their advice and support has been key in identifying activities and forward movement. This consistent support has been and will probably remain an essential contributor of our success,” he said.

At the end of her speech, Michelle added that UNDP continues to be Malaysia’s longstanding partner, including at community level and ready to offer relevant, custom and innovative solutions, drawing on UNDP’s global experience form working on the ground in more than 170 countries.

“Through UNDP’s new country programme 2016-2020, which is intended to support achievement of 11 MP and other internationally agreed goals and targets such as the SDGs, UNDP will continue our work with the federal government, and expand our working relationships with state governments and with communities to accelerate progress towards Vision 2020 and achievement of the SDGs by 2030, leaving no one behind.  I hope that soon, UNDP can advance discussions already underway with the state government of Sarawak and identify areas for UNDP support to Sarawak’s development priorities”.

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About FORMADAT

FORMADAT, an acronym for Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo or Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo, is a trans-border community forum established by the main ethnic groups in the area - the Lundayeh /Lun Bawang, Sa'ban & Kelabit. The highlands of Borneo, which comprise the sub-districts of Bario, Ba' Kelalan and Long Semadoh in Sarawak; Long Pa’ Sia’ in Sabah, Malaysia; and Krayan Selatan and Krayan  in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, constitute one geographic, environmental, and cultural land inhabited by  people who share a common origin. For more info, visit www.formadat.com

For further information:

Ms Lilla Raja, FORMADAT Secretary

Tel: 019-8060710    Emai: lillaraja@gmail.com