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Equator Initiative Case Study - Bio-Itzá Association

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The Bio-Itzá Association is an indigenous organization of the Mayan Itzá people, located in the Municipality of San José in northern Guatemala, which works to involve local communities and incorporate Mayan cultural traditions in the conservation of regional biodiversity. Legally incorporated in 1991, the association’s first major achievement came in 1998, when it was granted usufruct ownership of a 36-square kilometer area of forest, the Indigenous Community Bio-Itzá Reserve – the first indigenous community reserve to be established in Guatemala.
The association brings together 60 member families and focuses on three project areas: biodiversity conservation, through the sustainable management of the Bio-Itzá Reserve; development of sustainable micro-enterprises; and educational programmes addressing environmental and social issues that utilize indigenous Mayan knowledge. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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