Wanjira Maathai, daughter of the renowned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, is set to lead a transformative restoration initiative across Africa as her organization, the World Resources Institute (WRI), secures a $100 million investment. Maathai, the managing director of Africa and Global Partnerships at WRI, will use the funds to implement the Restore Local project, aimed at rejuvenating three key African landscapes: the Lake Kivu and Rusizi River Basin, Ghana’s Cocoa Belt, and Kenya’s Greater Rift Valley.
The groundbreaking announcement was made at TED2023 in Vancouver, Canada, where the non-profit TED organization revealed WRI’s Restore Local as the recipient of the substantial grant through their Audacious Project, launched in 2018 with a mission to foster a thriving future for all.
Maathai expressed gratitude for the recognition and support, emphasizing the importance of local action in the fight against climate change. “Restoration is one of the most powerful investments we can make on the planet,” she stated, adding that such efforts can mitigate climate change, protect communities from its worst effects, and spur economic growth through job creation and increased family incomes.
WRI’s goal is to advance the AFR100 movement, an ambitious initiative targeting the restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land across Africa by 2030. Maathai stressed the importance of support from governments, development banks, investors, NGOs, and other stakeholders in enabling smallholder farmers to actively participate in restoration efforts and reap their benefits.
Maathai’s mother, the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, established the Green Belt Movement, which championed tree planting in local environments and resulted in the planting of over 30 million trees throughout Africa. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her significant contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.