Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive a Nobel Prize, is the 2020 Taking Nature Black Legacy Environmental Champion.
In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM) an environmental organization that empowers communities, and particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods. Professor Maathai was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem, the world’s “second lung” after the Amazon Rainforest.
Her four books (The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience, Unbowed: A Memoir, The Challenge for Africa, and Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World) and the documentary Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai expanded on and deepened the key concepts behind the Green Belt Movement’s work and approach. The work of Professor Maathai and the Green Belt Movement continues to stand as a testament to the power of grassroots organizing, proof that one person’s simple idea—that a community should come together to plant trees, can make a difference.