TRAFFIC mourns the loss of Wangari Maathai
TRAFFIC was saddened to hear of the passing away of Professor Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. Professor Maathai was tireless in her work on behalf of the environment and humanity, focusing attention on the ways in which the future of both are inter-related: “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.”
Professor Maathai started the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which has mobilized hundreds of thousands of women to plant more than 47 million trees. In 2008, TRAFFIC and others were honoured when Professor Maathai participated in the formal launch of the Mama Misitu campaign in Dar es Salaam, a two year advocacy and awareness raising campaign to address governance and forest management concerns identified through TRAFFIC research. Mama Misitu is Kiswahili and literally translates as “woman of forests”. The name reflects the life-supporting role of forests and the need for everybody to play a role in nurturing them for the benefit of future generations.
Professor Wangari Maathai was truly a Mama Misitu. Although she is no longer with us in body, the untold seeds of inspiration and hope that she planted will continue to grow and spread around the world.
“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” Professor Wangari Maathai, 1940-2011.
Related link: NGO alliance to tackle illegal logging, April 2008