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2004 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Wangari Maathai
an article by Tony Dominski

The award of the 2004 Nobel Peace prize to a Kenyan woman, Wangari Maathai, underscores the links between environmental protection and peace. Commenting on her award she said: “The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that.”

Wangari is best known for starting the Green Belt Movementthrough which poor rural woman are paid a small amount when each tree they plant takes root. The trees reverse deforestation while providing cooking fuel and preventing soil erosion. Since 1977 over 25 million trees have been planted and 30,000 woman trained in forestry, food processing, bee-keeping along other trades to help them earn income while preserving their lands and resources. Eco-tourism has also taken root in the Green Belt.

In the course of this work Maathai has had to endure beatings and imprisonment for opposing destructive environmental policies of former president Danial arap Moi. In 2002 she won an election for member of parliament with 98% of the vote and is now Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources. As she said: “I am working to make sure we don’t only protect the environment, we also improve governance.”

The Nobel Committee praised her "holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular." Asked about awarding the Peace Prize to an environmentalist, Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes answered: "It is clear that with this award, we have expanded the term peace to encompass environmental questions related to our beloved earth."

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


What is the relation between the environment and peace?,

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

[quote=mmartin,Nov. 16 2004,22:16][/quote]
Quote
Preserve the planet is one of the keys of a culture of peace.

For sure it is; the question is what is the relation, and for this we can best listen to the wisdom of so many indigenous peoples, that from times immemorial are guardians of the earth. If we are not at peace with our environment, behaving like parasites, how can we even think about a peacefull and non violent culture for our future generations....it is like a contradiction in terms.
So we have to heal this error of thinking and realise that the relation between the environment and peace is one of inextricable boundage.

This is why I want to bring under your attention the Global Campaign: SPEAKING4EARTH that is launched at 9 december 2004 in the Peace palace in The Hague.

Indigenous peoples have a deep spiritual connection to their land, including the sky, the clouds, the rivers, the soil and all living creatures. In the indigenous world, it is said that land is not something you inherit from your ancestors, but rather something you borrow from your children. Speaking4Earth is a project connecting this sense of change in the western relationship with the world with the vision of indigenous peoples that we need to care for the earth for our future generations. Speaking4 earth makes it priority to have the draft declaration on the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples addopted by the GA of the UN

reading their website:

For twenty years, Indigenous Peoples and their support organisations have been pressuring the United Nations to adopt a declaration for the protection of the rights of the world’s Indigenous Peoples. It is feared that – due to blocking attempts most notably by the UK and the USA - the UN will now stop this process and leave Indigenous Peoples’ rights unrecognized. . ...more.


This report was posted on October 31, 2004.