14 December 2009 The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and green advocate Wangari Maathai will become a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on the environment and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today.
Mr. Ban told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York that Ms. Maathai of Kenya will be inducted as a Messenger of Peace at a ceremony tomorrow afternoon in Copenhagen, where the UN climate change conference is taking place.
“Professor Maathai’s long record of achievement in environmental conservation and sustainable development makes her an excellent choice,” the Secretary-General said.
Professor Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, founded the grassroots group known as the Green Belt Movement, which has planted more than 40 million trees on community lands across Africa and worked to improve environmental conservation and reduce poverty.
The only African woman to win that award, Professor Maathai has also served as a Government minister, lawmaker, academic and women’s rights advocate over the past four decades.
Messengers of Peace are individuals widely recognized for their talents in the arts, academia, sports, entertainment and other fields who work to help raise worldwide awareness of UN ideals and activities.
Through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work, they expand public understanding of how the UN helps to improve the lives of people everywhere. The other Messengers of Peace and their areas of focus include: conductor Daniel Barenboim (peace and tolerance); actor George Clooney (peacekeeping); author Paulo Coelho (poverty and intercultural dialogue); actor Michael Douglas (disarmament); primatologist Jane Goodall (conservation and environmental issues) and violinist Midori Goto (Millennium Development Goals and Youth).
The other five Messengers are: Princess Haya Bint al Hussein (Millennium Development Goals and hunger); cellist Yo-Yo Ma (youth); actor Charlize Theron (ending violence against women); Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel (human rights); and singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder (people with disabilities).
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