Kenya’s Climate and environmental activist Elizabeth Wathuti has received the Amnesty International Chair award.
Announcing the honor, Ghent University in Belgium said Wathuti was awarded for her contribution to human rights worldwide.
“Elizabeth Wathuti is the 2023 laureate of the Amnesty International Chair. She is being honoured by UGent for her prominent role as an environmental and climate activist.”
Acknowledging the award, Wathuti said: “Deeply honoured to receive the 2023 Amnesty International Chair Award! For a long time, the environment has been seen as something out there, beyond us and somehow separate from human affairs, but we are learning the hard way that this separation is a dangerous illusion.”
The activist also had the opportunity to make a public address in Ghent. In her acceptance speech, Wathuti acknowledged that it may not be obvious to everyone why an environmentalist & climate activist was receiving a human rights award.
“For a long time, the environment has been seen as something separate from human affairs so we have organized ourselves into different tribes – environmental defenders and human rights defenders – and focused on our separate domains but we are learning the hard way that this separation is a dangerous illusion.
“By giving me this award, Amnesty International and the University of Ghent are recognising our common cause. We are all defenders of a dignified life. We are all defenders of this beautiful planet that we call home. The work that I do is deeply rooted in nature.”
Elizabeth Wathuti also paid tribute to Kenya’s first Nobel Laureate and environmental activist Wangari Maathai.
“This evening, I’m reminded of these great words from Professor Wangari Maathai, “In the Course of History, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach the higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”