Wanjira Mathai

Environmental restoration champion
Through the forest restoration initiative Restore Local, Wanjira Mathai is working to help both Africa's people and its landscapes flourish.

Why you should listen

Growing up in Kenya, Wanjira Mathai developed an early understanding of nature's restorative power. Her mother, Wangari Maathai, was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, earned for founding the Green Belt Movement. This woman-led, grassroots NGO has empowered communities for decades through the act of planting trees — and it's one that has remained close to Mathai's heart. For while she initially studied health and business and worked on disease control at The Carter Center, she ultimately became head of the Green Belt Movement herself. She later led Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables and served as executive chair of The Wangari Maathai Foundation.

As managing director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute, Mathai now leads the Restore Local project, helping advance forest protection and landscape restoration. By investing in local restoration projects, Restore Local is revitalizing forests, pastures and mangrove clusters, fighting climate change and promoting sustainable, income-generating agriculture at scale. Mathai also serves on the boards of the World Agroforestry Centre and the Clean Cooking Alliance, and she is a member of the Africa-Europe Foundation's High-Level Group of Personalities.

Wanjira Mathai’s TED talk

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