Press Release: Prey Lang activists win international UN prize

September 22, 2015 | Posted in: News

Forest activists from the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) have won the prestigious Equator Prize 2015. This was announced yesterday during a press conference at the United Nations’ head quarters in New York.  

A local winner among nearly 1,500 global nominees!
The Equator Prize 2015 is part of the Equator Initiative under the United Nations Development Programme. Out of 1,462 nominations from 126 countries, PLCN managed to make the difficult cut to become one of the 21 Equator Prize winners.

The great news was given to the Cambodian grassroots movement on Monday 21st, when actor and environmentalist Alec Baldwin announced the winners together with Helen Clark head of the UNDP and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The winners were chosen because they represent “outstanding local and indigenous initiatives from all over the world that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature and resilient communities”. Helen Clark and Christiana Figueres stressed that these initiatives are so important, because they are proof, that global transformation takes place at the local level.

PLCN members, along with the other winning initiatives will now join a prestigious network of 187 leading community-based organisations from 70 different countries that have been awarded the Equator Prize since 2002. They will receive USD 10,000 and have support to travel to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris in December this year. Here they will receive the actual prize and get the opportunity to participate in a series of policy dialogues and special event with fellows from all over the world.

Important UN recognition: local Cambodian effort really does mean the world
Spokesperson and coordinator at the CPN, Community Peacebuidling Network – a partner organisation to the PLCN, based in Phnom Penh – Mr. Sokheng Seng was extremely proud of the PLCN being announced as one of the winners, as he explained:

“ The PLCN members are of course very happy to receive the USD 10,000, which will allow the network to continue the work against illegal logging and deforestation. But what makes them even happier and very proud is the recognition from such an important global player as the UNDP. This proves, that their work as a grassroots watchdog is important. Not only to the local communities of Prey Lang, but to all Cambodians, and to the rest of the world as well.”

The Prey Lang Community Network was nominated for the prize, by the University of Copenhagen, for its effort and success in engaging vulnerable local communities in and around the Prey Lang forest area in peaceful dialogue for forest protection. Most of these communities are indigenous Kuy families.

Reaction statements from members and partners of PLCN:
“The prize comes at a very critical time for forests and indigenous peoples in Cambodia. I hope the recognition by the United Nations will lead to a greater acknowledgement by the Cambodian authorities in regard to the crucial role local people play in biodiversity and environmental protection. I wish for Cambodian authorities to listen, understand, and collaborate with the Prey Lang Community Network in the future. Hopefully, this award will make their case for peaceful dialogue heard”.

Ida Theilade, Senior Researcher at University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Section for Global development. (The University of Copenhagen has been part of developing the app).

“I feel absolutely happy with this news and we will use this award to keep doing the activities that are useful for Prey Lang”.

Mr. Sopheap, PLCN member, Kampong Thom.

”I feel absolutely happy and thankful to our NGO partners that help Prey Lang. We will use this award that is very useful for Prey Lang to take care of natural resources and biodiversity in Prey Lang, to train more people and give them more skills, it is helpful for their livelihood and helpful for Prey Lang.”

Mr. Chea Sokhouen, PLCN member, Steung Treng.

“I think PLCN deserve this award because they work so hard in protecting the forest. Although the risks are high and real they commit to protect the forest. Prey Lang forest itself also needs to be better known in our region and to the rest of the world for its beauty and features. Now the world hears this story and comes together to protect this forest through recognition of the hard work of PLCN and its partners. This award will empower not only the PLCN but other forest communities to strive to be same in their work to protect the forest.”

Som Chanmony, Executive Director, Peace Bridges Organisation,


Read more

Equator Initiative

Prey Lang Community Network

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact:

Sokheng Seng, Secretariat Coordinator, CPN – Community Peacebuilding Network, +855 92 324 668

Ida Theilade, Senior researcher at the University of Copenhagen, , +45 35 33 17 42