[Dateline: Copenhagen | Author: iSeek]
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya was been designated as United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on the environment and climate change.
The Secretary-General presented her with a symbolic dove pin during a ceremony at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Tuesday, 15 December 2009.
In selecting Ms. Maathai for this designation, the Secretary-General said, “Wangari Maathai is a living example of how much difference one person, with passion and dedication, can make in the world. For 45 years, she has dedicated herself to reshaping and improving the physical and social landscape of Africa” ( full remarks ).
She has gained worldwide recognition over four decades as an academic, environmentalist, women’s rights advocate and parliamentarian, often serving as the first woman in her position.
In 1976, she developed an innovative grassroots organization focusing on poverty reduction and environmental conservation through community-based tree planting. Known as the Green Belt Movement, her organization has assisted women in planting more than 40 million trees on community lands, including farms, schools and church compounds.
Since 2006, Ms. Maathai has been the patron of the UN Environment Programme’s Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign , which has a presence in 170 countries. Thanks to her advocacy and leadership, 10 billion trees have been planted since the campaign began. Ms. Maathai is actively campaigning for forest protection, and serves as Goodwill Ambassador of the Congo forest. She also actively promotes the issue of climate justice.
Ms. Maathai was listed 6th in the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency peer review of the world’s Top 100 Eco-Heroes. She was included in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Hall of Fame and named one of the 100 heroines of the world. In 2005, she was honored by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
In 2004, she was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first African woman to win the prize, as well as the first environmental activist. Under the Nobel Women’s Initiative, she is now working with women worldwide to promote peace, justice and equality.
Recognized for her ability to mobilize civil society on climate change and environmental issues, Ms. Maathai joins eleven other United Nations Messengers of Peace who advocate on behalf of the Organization.
Messengers of Peace are individuals who possess widely recognized talents in the fields of art, academia, literature, sports and entertainment, helping to raise worldwide awareness of the Organization’s ideals and activities. Through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work, they expand public understanding of how the United Nations helps to improve the lives of people everywhere.
The other United Nations Messengers of Peace and their areas of focus are: conductor Daniel Barenboim (peace and tolerance); actor George Clooney (peacekeeping); author Paulo Coelho (poverty and intercultural dialogue); actor Michael Douglas (disarmament); primatologist Jane Goodall (conservation and environmental issues); violinist Midori Goto (Millennium Development Goals and Youth); Princess Haya Bint al Hussein (Millennium Development Goals and hunger); cellist Yo-Yo Ma (youth); actor Charlize Theron (ending violence against women) Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel (human rights); and singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder (persons with disabilities).