Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks introducing Wangari Maathai as UN Messenger of Peace

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Copenhagen (Denmark), 15 December 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to be here with Professor Wangari Maathai, an incomparable environmentalist … activist for women's rights … parliamentarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Wangari Maathai is a living example of how much difference one person, with passion and dedication, can make in the world.

For 45 years, she has dedicated herself to reshaping and improving the physical and social landscape of Africa .

Her Green Belt Movement has empowered women, fought against land grabs, raised consciousness and protected the environment.

It members have planted a remarkable number of trees on community lands, farms, schools and church compounds – more than 40 million.

She has been showered with accolades and awards – and has earned every one of them.

She was the first African woman to win the Nobel peace prize.

She was also the first environmental activist to win – sending an important message that environmental protection is every bit a matter of peace and security as the more traditional diplomatic efforts that usually claim the award.

Professor Maathai, I take great pleasure in proclaiming you a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on the environment and climate change.

You are a true champion -- for the environment and for people.

We at the United Nations are very excited at what you will do to advance these causes.

Thank you for taking on this important role.