2011 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner – Prof. Wangari Maathai


Prof Wangari MaathaiThe 6th International Green Awards™, in association with Climate Change – The New Economy, is proud to announce that the Kenyan visionary, Professor Wangari Maathai was posthumously awarded the inaugural ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ sponsored by First Eastern Investment Group for her lifelong commitment to environmental protection.


Posthumously awarded at the awards ceremony to Prof. Maathai, the trophy was received by Francesca de Gasparis, Director for the Europe office of the Green Belt Movement and a close friend.


Watch this wonderful woman’s life story and a thank you message from her daughter, Wanjira Maathai.


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“The International Green Awards™ Lifetime Achievement Award for Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Laureate 2004 has come at a time when we are grieving her loss to the world and celebrating her life. Wangari committed her life to planting trees, protecting forests and inspiring us all to do our bit to help create a sustainable future. Through this award, in recognition of her life, more people will come to learn of the deep commitment, humour and energy Wangari brought to the Green movement. Going forward, as Wangari used to say when she told the wonderful story of the little hummingbird- we will do the best we can!”
Francesca de Gasparis, Director of the Europe office, Green Belt Movement and a close friend of Wangari Maathai


As it is the United Nations’ International Year of the Forests, it seemed fitting that the prestigious 2nd Lifetime Achievement Award be given to a woman who established perhaps the greatest tree planting initiative in the world – the Green Belt Movement. Having already become the first Eastern African woman to hold a Ph.D., Professor Wangari Maathai went on to establish this movement, which has now planted over 45 million trees in Kenya.


However, after the movement was established, it soon became clear that Maathai was fighting for a cause that spread far beyond the ecological. She insisted that the tree planting be carried out by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and the paid employment for planting the trees, are now able to better care for their children and their children’s future. Essentially, Maathai’s unique insight was that social and economic issues were fundamentally intertwined with the environment.


In fact, the Green Belt Movement helped to profoundly improve the lives of Kenyan women and all Kenyans, through education, food-security and income, and rights- standing up to the then dictator Moi which lead to the first democratic elections in Kenya. In 2004 the Nobel committee awarded Maathai the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to link peace, sustainable development and democracy. A momentous achievement, as she was not only the first African woman to win the award, but the first environmentalist, indicating that her efforts had demonstrated that environmental protection in itself, was a path to peace.


Sadly, Maathai passed away in September 2011, and the world lost a true heroine and environmental luminary. Nevertheless, we can look back over her life and celebrate her remarkable selfless dedication to improving the environment, and enhancing the lives of women in Kenya, where her legacy continues to inspire leaders around the world. It was for this reason that the 6th International Green Awards decided to celebrate the life of Wangari Maathai by awarding her the Lifetime Achievement Award which she agreed to receive before her untimely passing.