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Rio+20 : UN pays tribute to late environmentalist and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai
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UN pays tribute to late environmentalist and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai
The United Nations today paid tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of Africa?s foremost environmental campaigners, who died on Sunday.

Mr. Ban called her a ?globally recognized champion for human rights and women?s empowerment? and a ?pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security.?

Ms. Maathai, 71, was the founder of the Green Belt Movement that encouraged women in rural Kenya to plant trees to improve their livelihoods through better access to clean water, firewood for cooking and other resources.

Since then, the movement has planted an estimated 45 million trees in Africa and assisted nearly 900,000 women to establish tree nurseries and plant trees to reverse the effects of deforestation.

Ms. Maathai was also a patron of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the inspiration behind the agency?s Billion Tree Campaign that encourages people across the world to plant trees for the benefit of their communities.

Ms. Maathai was recognized for her life-long commitment to environmental sustainability and the empowerment of women with the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, the first African women and first environmentalist to receive the prestigious honour.

More recently, she served as a UN Messenger of Peace as well as a member of the MDG Advocacy Group, which Mr. Ban set up last year to advance progress on the Millennium Development Goals ? the globally agreed targets for slashing hunger, poverty, disease and lack of access to education, all by 2015.
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