Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending the United Nations Equator Prize Award Ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City. Every two years, this prestigious award is given to projects that have successfully protected biodiversity while reducing poverty within indigenous communities and as Caffe Vita’s Green Coffee Buyer, I felt honored to be among groundbreaking conservationists from around the world.
Of the 1,234 nominations this year, Caffe Vita’s friends and partners at the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in Papua New Guinea were one of the few that received this prestigious award. A key reason that they were chosen was due to Caffe Vita’s involvement with the coffee program over the past 4 years. Revenues generated by our purchases have supported community health, education, and conservation projects for the people living in this region.
The awards ceremony featured celebrity guests and conservation leadership from around the globe. Al Gore gave a riveting speech on climate change and how grass roots projects such as TKCP are at the forefront of the war against climate change. Jane Goodall also spoke, saying that ‘a healthy well managed forest can lead to economic improvement.’ The ceremony also featured musical performances from Jackson Browne, Bon Iver, and Feist.
By working with indigenous communities in Papua New Guinea, TKCP has established a conservation area of more than 180,000 acres, including the pristine cloud forests that are home to the endangered tree kangaroo. With deforestation being one of the leading causes of global warming, this project received special recognition for sustainable forest management.
Coffee is unique in that it is a cash crop that can and should be cultivated under native shade trees in diverse, living ecosystems. Part of our mission here at Caffe Vita is to have direct involvement with the farmers that grow our coffee. Next week I will be returning to Papua New Guinea to help conduct training workshops near the Yopno River, a new area for the coffee project. I look forward to working hand in hand with the indigenous people and local agronomists to teach proper pruning, garden management and processing techniques.
We are honored to be involved in a project that has had a positive and measurable impact on the environment while also improving the livelihoods of the communities vital to maintaining the health of the planet.