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Apai Janggut, Indonesian environmentalist honored with prestigious award in Lisbon

Apai Janggut of Dayak Iban Sungai Utik Long House community received the prestigious Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity in Lisbon. His commitment to preserving Kalimantan’s environment earned him this recognition from the esteemed Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and notable figures like Angela Merkel.




PORTUGAL: Last weekend, the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, witnessed a momentous occasion. 

Apai Janggut, an elder and customary leader of the Dayak Iban Sungai Utik Long House community, received the prestigious Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity on Wednesday (19 Jul).

Apai Janggut was recognized and bestowed with this humanitarian award for his unwavering commitment to preserving the environment in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The 4th Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity ceremony, held in Lisbon, was graced by the presence of notable figures like former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

In his heartfelt acceptance speech, Apai Janggut passionately conveyed, “The forest is our life’s source, passed down through generations by our ancestors. Preserving the forest is an integral part of our culture.”

He further emphasized, “Within that forest lie our fields, medicinal plants, rivers, and the sacred graves of our ancestors. Protecting it is our duty. We take great pride that our actions contribute positively to the world.”

The esteemed Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation recognized Apai Janggut’s extraordinary dedication to local action and community-based movements, aimed at safeguarding forests and restoring ecosystems. 

The award was presented to him by Angela Merkel and Foundation President António Feijó.

Reporting from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador to Portugal, Rudy Alfonso, said, “This award is given as an appreciation for those who show extraordinary commitment to local action and community-based movements, which support forest protection and ecosystem restoration.”

The prize comes with significant support for the winners, enabling them to enhance their work in ecosystem restoration and their efforts to combat climate change on local, national, and global levels.

Notably, the Dayak Iban Sungai Utik Indigenous People have previously been acknowledged for their environmental endeavours.

In 2019, they received the Kalpataru national award from the Indonesian government and the UNDP Equator Prize for their courageous stand against illegal logging, encroachment, and land conversion by companies.

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