Earth Day is being
celebrated Wednesday throughout the world with the launching of the "Green Generation",
an ambitious two-year program to motivate people to reverse environmental decline. It was started 39 years
ago to highlight the importance of protecting the environment and thereby
benefit the world.
Wangari Maathai of Kenya is founder of the Green Belt
Movement and Africa's first female Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She told VOA
that her Earth Day message to the world is to practice the
environmental "Three R's" – Re-use, Reduce, and Recycle. Maathai also said Africa ought
to be in the forefront of the movement to protect the earth.
Day is a day that we all want to do something for the planet, and Africa in
particular ought to be in the forefront, especially for the protection of the
natural environment, especially forests and water and land," she said.
said the environmental movement is slowly gaining ground in Africa, although she
said the continent still has a long way catch up.
are still trying very hard, but Africa is still very much preoccupied with
survival, and as you know we have so many conflicts. And so we find that the
governments are still not prioritizing the environment, even though I want to
give credit to the governments in central Africa, 10 governments, which have
decided to better manage the Congo forests not for them but for the world, and
have created a treaty. And now they are being supported by the British
government and the Norwegian government to establish what they call the Congo Fund," the Nobel Laureate said.
said African countries are still not doing enough to prepare to adapt to the
changes that will come as a result of global warming.
we talk about global warming, many minds go to the Arctic Circle to the Polar
Regions, and we forget that much of the global warming scientists are telling
us that the greatest negative impact will be in Africa, especially with the
spread of desertification and loss of water and also loss of agricultural land.
So in fact it is ironic because Africa should be really preparing very
seriously in terms of adapting to the changes that will come," Maathai said.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at a recent book launching event in Washington
praised Maathai for her efforts to promote environmental awareness in Africa,
especially her tree-planting program.
said many African governments are beginning to adopt programs to protect the environment,
although she said it took 30 years for them to realize the important work that
she and her organization have been going.
want to thank the president (Sirleaf) for acknowledging our work. But it is
true that more African governments are now responding, and currently there is a
push by both President Eduardo (dos Santos of Angola), President Obasanjo
(former president of Nigeria), and the African Union, they are working very
closely now with the European Union to create what is being called a Green
World. And I have been invited to play a part, especially through the Green
Belt Movement in mobilizing communities across Africa from Djibouti to Dakar. In
many ways you feel sorry that it took 30 years and the Norwegian Nobel
Committee for Peace for people at home to recognize that we were dealing with a
very important issue that is crucial to Africa," Maathai said.
who is currently in the United States to promote her new book "The Challenge
for Africa", sent an Earth Day message to the world.
have a special message, and it's something that all of us can do, and that is
to use the three "Rs", which means reuse, reduce, and recycle. And in Japan,
using the same three "Rs" we adopted a concept that is Japanese called 'Mottainai'
which calls for respect of our communities, of our bio-diversity," she said.
said she will on Earth Day 2009 have the honor to plant the one millionth
tree of the Shaklee Corporation, a natural nutrition company based in San