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Press Release

Billion Tree Campaign Patron Wangari Maathai Appointed UN Messenger Of Peace
15/ 12/ 2009

Billion Tree Campaign Patron Wangari Maathai Appointed UN Messenger Of PeaceCopenhagen, 15 December - The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and green advocate Wangari Maathai became a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on the environment and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today.

Copenhagen, 15 December - The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and green advocate Wangari Maathai became a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on the environment and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today.

Ms. Maathai of Kenya was inducted as a Messenger of Peace at a ceremony in Copenhagen, where the UN climate change conference is taking place.

"Professor Maathai's lifetime record of environmental achievement, education and grassroot activism makes her an ideal choice," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). "This award recognises her tireless work as one of the world's most effective and persuasive advocates for a greener world, where everyday citizen actions combined with policy go hand in hand to catalyze a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient green economy so urgently needed," he added.

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 has 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.

"We are delighted by the Secretary General's choice today as we know that when the Professor speaks, people listen and take note," added Mr. Steiner. "Ms Maathai with her knowledge, experience and passion is one of the most effective and persuasive voices of the environment today."

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).

For more information please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when travelling: +41 795965737, or e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Further Resources
The Green Belt Movement
The Billion Tree Campaign, UNEP