The Kenyan assistant Environment Minister is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and was praised by the awarding committee as “a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace”. (1)
Reacting to the news Scottish Green Speaker on Parliamentary Business, Mark Ballard MSP, said: “This is recognition of an amazing and inspirational figure at the forefront of securing a sustainable future for Kenya, for Africa and on the world stage – working for peace and the environment every second of the day. Her lifelong mission to reforest Kenya has always been an inspiration to environmental campaigners in Scotland.
“The award is also recognition of the growing impact and relevance of the green agenda in politics everywhere in the world. I hope that her work on securing a sustainable future for Africa and worldwide is made even stronger by this award.
“With the Australian Greens predicted to take 10-12 per cent of the vote, pick up an extra five seats in the Senate and potentially hold the balance of power in tomorrow’s Australian poll, this is a big week for Greens in politics worldwide.”
Statement from Nobel Peace Prize Committee:
Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally.
Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression – nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation.
Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development. She founded the Green Belt Movement where, for nearly thirty years, she has mobilized poor women to plant 30 million trees. Her methods have been adopted by other countries as well. We are all witness to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world – in Europe too. Protecting forests against desertification is a vital factor in the struggle to strengthen the living environment of our common Earth.
Notes to editors: (1) for the full statement go to http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/2004/press.html
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