February 7, 2012
Honor and recognition keep pouring in for the late environmental hero Wangari Maathai. The 18th annual African Union Summit officially changed the name of “African Environment Day” to “Wangari Maathai Day.” The AU also created a new continental prize, the “Wangari Maathai Award for Outstanding Achievements in Environment and Biodiversity Conservation,” to promote conservation efforts throughout Africa.
Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, an organization with tree planting at the heart of its operations, to curtail the effects of deforestation in Kenya. Today, over 40 million trees have been planted all over the world by the Green Belt Movement. Maathai was awarded the Goldman Prize in 1991 and later went on to win the 2004 Nobel Prize.
Maathai passed away in September 2011. She was remembered with memorial services all over the world, including one hosted by the Goldman Prize in San Francisco. Her powerful legacy of peace and conservation continue to win praise.