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A Tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai

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Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari MaathaiMy colleagues and I at the World Bank are saddened by the death of Professor Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement.

Professor Maathai dedicated most of her adult life to nature conservancy and was world-renowned for her deep conviction for environmental protection and climate-change mitigation.

We are proud to have interacted extensively with Professor Maathai. We pay tribute to her for her selfless and tireless efforts to protect the natural environment, both to ensure sustainable development and to promote world peace.

Professor Maathai was actively engaged in working with the World Bank Group, both in Kenya and around the world.  Besides engaging World Bank leaders in important conversations on forest conservation, water resource management, and adaption to climate change, she actively participated in the preparation and dissemination of the seminal World Development Report for 2010, on climate change. We remember how passionately she campaigned for a better understanding of the multiple ways that we can and should protect our fragile natural environment, as well as for the preservation of Uhuru Park and the Karura Forest, two of the most important green spaces in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.

With her Green Belt Movement, Professor Maathai was also implementing a Bank-supported bio-carbon project aiming to restore and protect the Aberdare forest as well as the Mount Kenya forest, two of Kenya’s most important water catchment areas, or “water towers”, which have suffered extensive environmental degradation over two decades of deforestation.

My colleague Warren Evans, discusses Professor Maathai's work and remembers her as a pioneer in applying the concept of protecting and restoring ecosystems as a fundamental element of reducing rural poverty.

We at the World Bank express our profound sympathies and condolences to her family and the Kenyan people during this difficult time. May the Lord rest her soul in eternal peace.


Obiageli Ezekwesili

Africa Region Vice President

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