Legacy of Wangari Maathai celebrated on Africa Environment Day, March 3

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March 3, 2016 marks Africa Environment Day, which is celebrated in conjunction with Wangari Maathai Day in honour of the late Nobel Laureate’s legacy for environmental conservation. The theme of this year’s Africa Environment Day is “Strengthening women’s access to, and control over natural resources.”

Africa Environment Day coincides with World Wildlife Day and raises awareness on the role of women in environmental and natural resource management. This year’s theme is aligned with the 2016 African Union Summit theme of “African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on women’s rights.”

Wangari Maathai was the first African woman, and Kenyan, to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” She is remembered for leading protests against plans to sell off an urban forest in Nairobi for private development in 1998. A year later she stopped a multimillion dollar business complex from being constructed on Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, a public space.

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, which rallies women in rural Kenya to combat deforestation. To date, the organisation has planted over 50 million trees.

Natural resource management is a key interest for the African Development Bank. The Bank, through its African Natural Resources Center, Transition Support Department and African Legal Support Facility, supports its regional member countries to manage their environment and natural resources for development.