Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The 18th African Union (AU) Summit has renamed the African Environment Day as Wangari Maathai Day, in honour of the late Kenyan Environmentalist, in addition to creating a continental prize in her honour.
The Summit, which lasted until Tuesday morning in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, recognized Prof. Maathai as an outstanding personality and created the “Wangari Maathai Award for Outstanding Achievements in Environment and Biodiversity Conservation” to boost conservation.
The prize will recognize individuals with outstanding careers and commitment in preserving the environment.
Kenyan authorities sought the creation of the award as part of efforts to immortalize Maathai, who passed on last September after a battle with ovarian cancer.
The Kenyan Environmentalist’s love for trees was highlighted by her public weeping for the felling of a 50-metre tree in the Congo Forest, leading to international efforts to conserve the biggest forest cover in the continent.
“The Assembly recognizes her unwavering dedication to promoting peace, democracy and human rights in Africa,” said a declaration issued after the AU Summit ended.
The leaders also called on all the continent’s 54 states to name public landmarks, including streets, parks, squares, schools and institutes of peace in universities and other national monuments after Maathai.
They said such an honour would promote efforts to inspire the current generation to preserve the planet.
A tree has been planted in her honour at the ultra-modern AU Complex, directly opposite the statue of Kwame Nkruma.
The Summit called on all international financial institutions to work with private foundations and cooperate with her Greenbelt Movement to support the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environment.
The late Environmentalist’s remains were interred at the Institute, in line with her wishes, after a state funeral.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 31Jan2012