Green Belt Movement goes international

Posted: 14 April 2006

Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai has launched a new international charity, the Green Belt Movement International.

In 1977, while working with the National Council of Women of Kenya, Wangari Maathai introduced the idea of planting trees using local labour and indigenous wisdom. Under her dynamic leadership, this idea developed into a broad-based, grassroots organization called the Green Belt Movement (GBM).

Since that time the Green Belt Movement has grown into a dramatic force for change. Along the way, nearly 900,000 rural women have worked to establish tree nurseries and plant trees to reverse the effects of deforestation. To date, these women, through the Green Belt Movement, have planted more than 30 million trees worldwide.

Greenbelt Movement International logo
Greenbelt Movement International logo
The newly-formed Green Belt Movement International aims to enable these simple conservation and livelihood-creating techniques to be practised around the world.

The new organisation was set up to expand the focus on Kenya and Africa to a global level, whether empowering individuals in underdeveloped countries or planting trees on the grounds of supermarkets (which is already in progress with one supermarket chain in Japan). The movement fuses environmental and human elements and these powerful elements have attracted worldwide interest, particularly in North America and Japan.

"When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope" - Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was born at the foot of Mount Kenya in 1940. In 1971, she became the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a Ph.D. She was awarded a doctorate in Anatomy from the University of Nairobi, where she taught for many years.

In December 2002, Professor Maathai was elected to Kenya's Parliament. As a Member of Parliament, she chaired the committee to rewrite the Constitution of Kenya. When it is passed, it will be the one of the only Constitutions in the world that addresses environmental sustainability through the rights of animals and the protection of the earth. This extraordinary woman has received many awards worldwide, culminating in the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

Related links:

The Greenbelt Movement

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Farmers 'eat away' Kenyan mountain forests

Women chart environmental agenda

Profile: Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai