Professor Wangari Maathai honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award
The 6th International Green Awards™, in association with Climate Change – The New Economy (CCTNE), is proud to announce 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. The Nobel Peace Laureate; environmentalist; scientist; parliamentarian; founder of the Green Belt Movement; advocate for social justice, human rights, and democracy; elder; and peacemaker; was honoured for her vast contribution to sustainability at the annual gala dinner, which took place on 24th of November 2011 at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London.
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 ensuring paid employment for planting the trees, are now able to better care for their future generations. 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. This was 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.
The award was presented to Francesca de Gasparis, Europe Director of the Green Belt Movement who worked closely with Wangari for six years. The award was handed over by sponsor Ms. Elizabeth Kan, Managing Director of First Eastern Investment Group who came from Hong Kong for the occasion. A celebration of her life was screened which included a goodwill message and thanks from Wangari’s daughter Wanjira Maathai.
Francesca de Gasparis, Director of the Europe office of the Green Belt Movement commented “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!”.
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GREEN BELT MOVEMENT
The mission of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is to mobilize community consciousness- using tree planting as an entry point- for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation.
FIRST EASTERN INVESTMENT GROUP
A private equity and venture capital firm specializing in expansion stage. The firm seeks to invest in manufacturing, construction, financial and real estate industries. It prefers to invest in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. The firm typically invests between $1 and $10 million and a minimum annual sale of $12 million is required for all portfolio companies. It also looks for a seat on the Board of Directors and a minor stake in the portfolio company. First Eastern Investment Group was founded in 1988 is based in Hong Kong with additional offices in Shanghai Province, China; Beijing Province, China.
INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS
Launched in 2006 to critical acclaim, the INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™ were set up to recognise strategies that use creativity in an engaging and effective manner, leading to more sustainable outcomes. It is now an established event on the global sustainable business-calendar.
By showcasing “best in class” examples of effective, innovative and creative approaches to sustainability, the INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS™ aims to be an agent of change. To this end, the Awards team searches the globe every year to find true influencers, leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators, identifying worldwide sustainability success stories that inspire and motivate others.