Kenyan environmentalist Wanjira Mathai is among TIME Magazine‘s top 100 Most Influential People in 2023.
The daughter of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Wangari Maathai made the list thanks to her dedication to restoring land, communities, and livelihoods.
“Being recognised for Time 100 is a true honour. It’s humbling because you never really expect it. I work at the intersection of all the things I care about, I love what I do, the transformation in communities, and landscapes, so the recognition is an extra amazing feather in my cap,” Wanjira said.
The activist is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute. She is also chairs the Wangari Maathai Foundation and is chief Africa adviser to the Bezos Earth Fund – Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion fund to scientists, activists, NGOs to fight climate change and protect nature.
Wanjira directs attention, research and funding to help the most climate-vulnerable places and communities.
“I would love to see the inclusive transformation from a people, levels of poverty are unacceptably high. I would love to see communities economically transformed, that is my number one vision. And that starts from landscapes being transformed, economic opportunities created in the green economy, green energy, and forestry,” she said.
Bezos Earth Fund President & CEO Dr. Andrew Steer describes Wanjira as someone who fights for justice and the future of the African continent.
“As a managing director at the World Resources Institute and chief Africa adviser to the Bezos Earth Fund, she is shaping NGO and philanthropic work on the continent, directing attention, research, and funding to helping the most climate-vulnerable places and communities,” wrote Dr. Steer.
“She has led the iconic Green Belt Movement, pioneered investment in women entrepreneurs in renewable energy, and is driving a movement to restore 100 million hectares of African land.”
Wanjira made the Time Magazine list alongside Argentine World Cup-winning footballer Lionel Messi, Hollywood actor Michael B. Jordan, YouTuber MrBeast, and King Charles III.
Her mother, the late Wangari Maathai was named in the TIME 100 Women of the Year in 2020, a different category for women “who have wielded influence over the world.”
In a past interview, Wanjira said she aspires to keep her mother’s legacy alive.
“My mother was passionate about the environment and the people, especially the most vulnerable, women and youth. She was always looking at how she could use nature to generate income,” she said.