In a significant event, Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya inaugurated the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi's Upper Kabete Campus. The institute, named after the renowned Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai, is poised to collaborate closely with the government to tackle climate change-related challenges and resource conflicts in Kenya and the wider region.
Addressing the gathering, CS Tuya stressed the importance of research focusing on the interplay between the environment, conflicts, and peace. She pointed out that the 6th IPCC Assessment Report underscores the increasing role of environmental factors in driving insecurity, leading to conflicts, especially in Africa. CS Tuya commended the efforts of various partners, including the African Union, the African Development Bank, the Clinton Global Initiative, and DANIDA, for their contribution to the establishment of the institute.
CS Tuya praised the institute's commitment to continue Prof. Maathai's legacy by promoting research, education, and community engagement in environmental governance, peace cultures, climate adaptation, sustainable development, and conservation. She also acknowledged Prof. Maathai's groundbreaking achievements, such as being the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and earning a PhD in biology, making her a source of inspiration for environmentalists and scholars.
The Cabinet Secretary also shared updates on ongoing climate initiatives, including a national tree-growing and ecosystem restoration program worth 15 billion Kenyan Shillings. She called for active participation from all Kenyans in this endeavor. Additionally, CS Tuya highlighted the upcoming Africa Climate Summit, which aims to showcase Africa's efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
While celebrating Prof. Maathai's legacy, CS Tuya acknowledged persisting challenges in environmental governance, such as illegal logging and inadequate waste management. To combat these challenges, she mentioned the recent recruitment of rangers and the deployment of advanced forest fire management technologies.
The launch event saw the presence of prominent figures, including University of Nairobi Chancellor Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Julius Ogengo, and Chair of Council Prof. Amukowa Anangwe. Dr. Rattansi praised Prof. Maathai's pioneering efforts in climate action and environmental care, noting her role as an agent of change even before climate change gained global attention. Prof. Anangwe appreciated the government and partners for their support in establishing the institute, which will not only carry forward Prof. Maathai's legacy but also contribute to advanced environmental education.
The inauguration of the Wangari Maathai Institute marks a significant step toward addressing climate challenges and advancing environmental research, aligning with Prof. Maathai's enduring legacy and vision.