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University mourns loss of Kenyan activist

The Faculty of Life Science paid its respects to the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, in a tree planting ceremony

There are few that can herald the same accomplishments as Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai.

After seeing the effects of mass deforestation in Kenya, Mathaai started the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots movement towards promoting reforestation. She became an advocate for social justice, human rights, democracy and peace.

As revolutionary environmentalist, politician, activist, and scientist, Maathai fought many battles. However, there is one thing she could not overcome: her battle against cancer. On 25 September, Maathai died at the age of 71. The loss of this influential leader is mourned worldwide, as her work left an impression well beyond the borders of Kenya. She was also well-known right in our own back yard here at the University of Copenhagen.

Honouring an ally

Amoungst other international honours, such as the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, Maathai received a honourary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in 2010.

In the years before her death Maathai worked intensively to create ‘Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies,’ which promotes African research and knowledge of the relationship betwen conflict, democratisation, and natural ressource exploitation in Africa.

The University of Copenhagen has been involved in the work to build the Wangari Maathai institute, including through a DKK 9 million research grant from Danida, the Danish International Development Agency.

On 14 October a memorial tree-planting ceremony was held at the Faculty of Life Science garden to honour her life and her accomplishments towards a better, greener planet.

See the photos from the ceremony at the Faculty of Life Science here

Read more about Wangari Maathai’s life here

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