Norway’s government minister in charge of environmental issues, Erik Solheim, called the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai “a great loss for the global environmental movement.” Maathai died at a hospital in Nairobi over the weekend while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Solheim called Maathai herself a “pioneer in modern environmental protection and among the first who connected the environment to development.” He noted that she was also the first person to win the Peace Prize based on her environmental protection efforts.
Solheim worked with Maathai for many years, especially on efforts to preserve rain forests in Africa. Maathai was also the first African woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
“This was very sad news,” Solheim said of Maathai’s death, and speaking on behalf of the Norwegian goverment. “She has the enormous honor for putting themes like tree-planting and forest preservation on the agenda,” Solheim said. “Those themes will remain even though she’s gone, but we have lost a strong and convincing spokeswoman for them.”
Maathai, age 71, founded the grass roots Green Belt Movement and joined the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976. She held a doctorate degree in biology and won the Peace Prize after the Norwegian Nobel Committee determined that “peace on earth depended on a secure environment.” The committee lauded her struggle to further ecologically responsible social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and Africa.
Views and News staff