The University of Nairobi (UoN) on Monday launched the Wangari Mathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in honour of the late Nobel Laureate.
The institute, which was launched by Environment CS Soipan Tuya, is aimed at providing research, education and community engagement in the field of environmental management.
According to UoN, the institute will recognise, honour, celebrate, and immortalise the former Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.
“Thank you for immortalising the great Nobel Peace Laureate Prof Wangari Mathai by establishing this institute,” stated Tuya.
Environment CS Soipan Tuya (front center) and other leaders at the Wangari Mathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies on Monday, August 28, 2023.
“Accept the gratitude of the people at the government of Kenya. The institute aims carry forward Prof Mathai’s legacy by providing research, education and community engagement in the field of environmental governance, cultures of peace, climate adaptation, sustainable development and conservation.”
Mathai first harboured the zeal to set up the institution 50 years ago when she was awarded Master of science from University of Pittsburgh in the United States of America.
After completion of her masters studies, she was recruited in the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Histology, University College of Nairobi in 1966. Soon after, she registered for PhD and returned in Nairobi in 1969 and was appointed as a lecturer in the same department.
“Being at the university teaching veterinary sciences did not stop from exploring her passion for tree planting with establishment of her Green Belt Movement in 1977, which eventually become a regional and global movement that have influenced several individuals and organisations to protect the environment,” read a statement from the institution.
Her dream to set up the institute was reinforced in 2007 but sadly, she could not see it to fruition since she passed away from complications of cancer in September 2011.
In 2012, the African Union decided to recognise her life and work during its Session of the General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Consequently, all Heads of State urged relevant institutions to pool resources for the establishment of the institute as an African Centre of Excellence in environmental governance.
Through her work, Mathai inspired generations and emerged as the inaugural African woman, and the third African overall, to attain the Nobel Peace Prize—a historic achievement.
A photo of the entrance to The University of Nairobi.
The University of Nairobi