15 January 2024, Rome – The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) today opened nominations for the 7th Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award, an honour granted to individuals who have made extraordinary efforts to improve the world’s forests and the lives of people who depend on them.
This year, the jury will particularly be looking for achievements related to forest restoration, sustainable forest products, reducing forest loss, building resilient forest communities and improving livelihoods.
“Only with the brightest minds bringing about concrete impacts can we fully unlock the huge potential of forests to address global challenges,” said Zhimin Wu, CPF Chair and Director of the Forestry Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
“We need outstanding forest champions to advocate for innovative change and inspire others to follow in their footsteps towards a greener, more sustainable and resilient future.”
The call for nominations for the 2024 Wangari Maathai Forest Champion is open until 10 February 2024, and nominations related to grassroots and youth-led initiatives are especially encouraged.
Along with international recognition, the winner will receive a cash prize of USD 20 000 and will be invited to attend an award ceremony at the 27th Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO) which will take place 22-26 July 2024 in Rome.
At the COFO session, forest policymakers from around the globe will gather to discuss a broad range of topics, including agriculture and forestry linkages, the future of wood demand and supply, forests and climate change, wildfire management, restoration and biodiversity.
The Committee on Forestry session will be held in conjunction with the 9th World Forest Week, bringing State and non-State stakeholders together under the theme ‘Accelerating forest solutions through innovation’.
Legacy of Wangari Maathai
The CPF launched the first Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award in 2012 to honour and commemorate the impact of the late Kenyan environmentalist, who championed forest issues across the globe. Maathai was the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace in 2004.
Her Green Belt Movement is an environmental organization that empowers communities, and particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods. The movement has also planted over 51 million trees in Kenya. This spirit is revived through the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, which was launched with a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature.
Previous Wangari Maathai Forest Champion Award winners are Nepalese community forestry movement leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha (2012), Mexican environmental campaigner Martha Isabel ‘Pati’ Ruiz Corzo (2014), Ugandan forestry activist Gertrude Kabusimbi Kenyangi (2015), Brazilian forestry activist Maria Margarida Ribeiro da Silva (2017), Burundian forestry activist Léonidas Nzigiyimpa (2019), and Cameroonian activist and social forester Cécile Ndjebet (2022).
About the CPF
Chaired by FAO, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests is an inter-agency partnership of 16 international organizations, institutions and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests. CPF members work together to promote sustainable management of all types of forests and to support countries to achieve the Global Forest Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.