February 18, 2022

Wanjira Mathai

Country: Kenya

Expertise: Environmental activist

Wanjira Mathai is a Kenyan environmentalist and activist. She is Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute, based in Nairobi, Kenya. In this role, she takes on global issues including deforestation and energy access. She was selected as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine in 2018 for her role serving as the senior advisor at the World Resources Institute as well as her campaign to plant over 30 million trees through her work at the Green Belt Movement. Ms. Mathai serves on the World Future Council and on the board of the Green Belt Movement.

Ms. Mathai serves as senior advisor of the Partnerships for Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables (wPOWER).wPOWER promotes women in renewable energy leadership in an effort to bring renewables to almost four million women in East Africa. For Ms. Mathai, women’s engagement with renewable energy is one of economic empowerment, fulfilling several of the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the modernization occurring in Kenya, women still spend several hours a day collecting firewood, and half of all deaths in children under 5 years old occur due to household air pollution. Ms.Mathai serves on the advisory board of the Clean Cooking Alliance, and is also a member of the Earth Chapter International Council. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Since 2016, Ms. Mathai has served as Chairperson of the Wangari Maathai Foundation. The foundation looks to advance the legacy of Wangari Maathai by promoting a culture of purpose with young people serving as leaders. The foundation has three priorities: maintaining Wangari Muta Maathai House, instilling leadership skills in youth to promote creativity and courage at a young age (Wanakesho), and a fellowship for young people. She believes that educating youth will allow for peace-building and for a decrease in corruption in Kenya, as youth will grow up to become future leaders. She often speaks to these topics, as she is a motivational speaker on the topics of youth leadership, environment, and climate change.

Fighting Climate Change with Trees in Africa


Women’s role in energy access solutions to climate change


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