Globally Celebrated Kenyans for Climate Change Action

Climate Change champions
A collage of Climate change champions Mohamed Adow (Left) Rahmina Paulette (Center) and Elizabeth Wathuti(Right)
Power Shift Africa

Heads of State, climate activists, various government representatives and other stakeholders are expected to meet in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, November 6  for the largest annual gathering on climate action, the United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change - COP27.

President William Ruto, the chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, is expected to deliver Africa’s statement on climate change at the convention.

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations(UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) aims at building on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on a range of issues urgent to tackling the climate emergency.

Over the years, Kenyans have been on the frontline in saving the planet through environmental conservation and advocacy. Some of these individuals are celebrated world over. looks at award-winning Kenyans who continue to fly the country's flag high in pushing for Climate action.

Wangari Maathai

The late Prof Wangari Maathai remains a household name in the Kenyan scene. The internationally recognized Nobel Peace Prize Laureate won global recognition in 2004 for her contribution and persistent struggle for peace, sustainable development, democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. 

Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai

She was the first African woman to win the prize and occasionally addressed the UN, mostly speaking on behalf of women at the special sessions of the General Assembly.

Prof Maathai sought to put an end to the climate change conflict through the founding of the Green Belt Movement in 1977.

"We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird, I will do the best I can," she famously quoted.

Mohamed Adow

Renowned Kenyan climate policy expert Mohamed Adow bagged a prestigious award in recognition of his work in addressing climate change.

The Director and Founder of think tank Power Shift Africa in Nairobi, was one of two awardees of the 2021 Climate Breakthrough Award.

The non-governmental organisation was established to mobilise climate action in Africa and shift climate and energy policies to zero carbon. 

"I grew up in a pastoralist farming community in northern Kenya. What first brought climate injustice home to me was my personal experiences. Seeing our family’s livestock killed by drought and our neighbours' livelihoods destroyed." he said

Elizabeth Wathuti

Climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti, a Green Climate Fund Youth Champion, and the founder of the Green Generation Initiative, calls for solidarity and compassion in efforts to address the world’s growing climate and ecological crises. 

Her moving words at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in 2021 calling global leaders to open their hearts to those suffering devastating impacts of climate change resonated strongly with the world.

Elizabeth founded the Green Generation Initiative in 2016, a youth-led initiative aimed at addressing environmental issues through education, tree growing for impact, advocacy, and activism.

She spoke of the harsh realities facing millions of Kenyans who do not have enough to eat due to deforestation and climate change-induced disasters like droughts and floods.   

"Most of the things that are happening in the world right now are because we have chosen to put profits above the people and our planet." she said at the global conference.

Rahmina Paulette

Rahmina was the 2021 winner of the Youth for Climate East Africa Award.

The 15-year-old and Under 21 Category champion, led a strong campaign for climate action and awareness through tree planting activities which she begun at the age of 5. She admitted to planting an average of 3,000 trees every year.

Additionally Rahmina has created a mobile game to educate young people about environmental conservation.

Charles Kinyua and Joseph Nguthiru

The dynamic duo of Charles Kinyua and Joseph Nguthiru, both students at Egerton University, Kenya won the Youth for Climate Category at the 2021 East Africa Awards.

The two partners have engaged in revolutionary ideas including converting weeds like hyacinth into biodegradable plates to replace single-use plastics. They are famed for planting over 2600 seedlings without a budget.

Their innovative idea of creating biodegradable containers to hold seedlings, eliminating the current use of plastics in seedling storage geared them to their current success.

Charles Kinyua and Joseph Nguthiru
Joseph Nguthiru (left) displaying an award and Charles Kinyua (Right).
Paukwa Stories

Linah Mwamachi

Linah is a journalist that hails from Taita Taveta County in Kenya. She won the award for Media for Climate- Radio division after submitting several stories.

One story stood out as it addressed the impact of Climate change on women and the elderly. Her focus on agroforestry as a means of income generation as well as forest conservation earned her the highly acclaimed award.

Her revelation on issues surrounding human-wildlife conflict and the struggle for resources explored a novel topic that is rarely discussed in social spaces.

Solomon Muingi

Solomon Muingi also a journalist based in Taita Taveta County, won an East Africa award, Media for Climate -Print division.  

He submitted several articles detailing the climate issues in the county and various techniques that affected local communities are employing to become food secure.

His accolade came about because of his description on various constraints that the fisherfolk community face due to climate change and prescribed best practices to be practiced by the locals to build resilience.

Benard Kioko Ndaka

Benard Kioko Ndaka is a name that has been gaining recognition throughout Africa since 2016, as a climate activist taking part in the Fridays for Future movement to counter the impact of climate change.

He owns a protest placard that bears a simple handwritten message 'No planet B, We need Action Now'.

Inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and environmental activist Wangari Maathai, Ndaka has planted over 6,000 trees across Nairobi County an action that has spread widely and influenced young people across Africa to join in the practice.

He has a non-profit organisation called Global Green Economy, aimed at planting over one million trees in Kenya to counter the impact of the climate crisis, especially in the arid northern counties of Garissa and Wajir. 

Kenya has expressed commitment in addressing the climate crisis with a recent proclamation by President Ruto to grow 5 billion new trees as part of his climate change mitigation agenda. To achieve the goal the president urged every Kenyan, not excluding children, to work towards growing 100 trees each.

Benard Kioko
Benard Kioko during a tree planting exercise in 2020.
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