When a Sapling is Planted - Summary / Review


When a Sapling is Planted is the Nobel Acceptance Speech by Wangari Mathai.  She begins her speech by accepting the prize on behalf of the people of Kenya, especially women and children.  She hopes that this prize would encourage them to raise their voice.

Wangari Mathai started Green Belt movement responding to the needs of rural women.  Women are the first to become aware of environmental damage as their lives are inextricably linked to the environment. Commercial farming, international trade agreements and environmental damage had drastically undermined the quality of their lives.

Tree planting was the natural choice to address these issues as it was simple and attainable.  These trees provided fuel, food, shelter and income to support their families.  

A degraded environment leads to over exploitation of scarce resources.  Destruction of ecosystems, deforestation, climatic instability, and contamination of soil and water lead to poverty and even conflict.  
Greenbelt movement later became a movement for democracy in Kenya, realizing that responsible governance of the environment was possible only in a democratic space.

Even today activities that devastate the environment and societies continue unabated.  We should revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life and take steps to protect biodiversity.  It is time to think about sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space.

In conclusion she calls upon young people to commit themselves to activities that would help achieve this goal.  We have to pass on to the posterity the beauty and wonder of nature without destroying it and trying to restore its lost glory.

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