On Wednesday 20 June 2012, the Equator Prize 2012 Award Ceremony was held as part of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a gala event at the Vivo Rio concert hall. Celebrating both the 10-year anniversary of the Equator Initiative and the 20-year anniversary of the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme, the evening was a vibrant celebration of local action in thematic areas such as food security, freshwater access, sustainable energy, oceans and biodiversity.
The 25 prize winners took the stage to enthusiastic applause from the more than 1,700-strong audience in recognition of their outstanding achievements. Presidents and prime ministers from countries including Fiji, Madagascar, Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands were also on hand to honor the communities.
A host of celebrities and leaders in sustainable development joined the winners on stage in celebration. Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, and Gilberto Gil, world-renowned musician and former Brazilian Minister of Culture, hosted the evening event, while Edward Norton, actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, and Camila Pitanga, Brazilian actress and environmental advocate served as emcees. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, were among those who presented awards during the course of the evening, before Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, congratulated the winners on their achievements in a special address. The evening was concluded by a musical performance from Gilberto Gil, who was joined on stage by representatives of the twenty-five winners as he brought the award ceremony to an inspiring close.