Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate and Co-Chair of the Congo Basin Forest Fund

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Facing challenges head-on and responsibly

Prof. Wangari Maathai attracts crowds not only because of her hard work for the environment in Africa, which earned her the Nobel Peace Prize, but also for her constant smiles, and good spirit. The Kenyan-born Nobel Laureate has been working hard to preserve the Congo Basin. Along with Canada’s former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, she co-chairs the Congo Basin Forest Fund.

Highly solicited during the launch of the Congo Basin Forest Funds in June 2008 in London, she addressed, on many occasions, the more than 100 participants present at the event, and her statements portray her sincere gratitude to the international community for the support provided for this relatively unknown cause.

Wangari Maathai: Comments made during the CBFF launch:

"Africa contributes little to climate change, but it is its first victim. Adverse effects of climate change have been are compounded due to the lack of resources. Africa lacks the capacity, knowledge and resources to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. Africa is still very vulnerable to natural and economic catastrophes. That explains why it must closely work with the international community. It is only through concerted efforts that we can ensure the long-term survival of the Congo Basin."

"The Congo River Basin does not need us. We need this vital natural ecosystem. It is only through sustainable development of this resource and global concerted effort that we can achieve our goal. Interested stakeholders must work together to preserve the forests and ensure the long-term economic development of local communities. The stakes are high, but our future depends on it."

"The Congo River Basin is an exceptional reservoir of biodiversity. Its richness is yet to be discovered, and one of the mandates of the Fund is to raise awareness of this exceptional basin. While we seek to preserve it, we must, at the same time, ensure the long-term wellbeing of local communities whose lives depend on it."

"The Congo Basin Forest Fund is a dream come true. We must commend the leadership shown by the Heads of State and Government of Central African states, as well as the governments of Great Britain and Norway. We have to encourage other partners to join this unique, innovative and consensual endeavour. The existence of the Fund is testimony to Africa’s capacity to take its destiny into its own hands and, if it acts responsibly, the international community will come to its help."

"Management of the Fund must be driven by the same values that brought about its creation: transparency, cooperation, partnership, social responsibility and unwavering support from all stakeholders."

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