For me planting a tree is a very doable thing. It's not complicated, it doesn't require technology, it doesn't require much knowledge, but it can be a very important entry point into communities understanding how they destroy their own resources, but how they can also restore those resources, and not wait for their government or international agencies to come and help them.
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It's very important to remain optimistic and to see the silver lining in everything you do. Because no matter how sometimes things look difficult, and look like there is no hope, there is always a small glimmering of silver lining that is in everything, and I always look for that, and hang on that, and before I know it, another day comes and is gone.
Sometimes when I talk to little children I remind them of the fact that when I was growing up myself, I used to play with frog eggs and tadpoles and I used to walk in the field, I used to literally copy whatever my mother was doing on the land. And that may be the reason why I eventually developed the passion for green and for the Earth. So it is extremely important for adults and especially those who are in charge of cities to make sure that we do not lose touch with the land and with the environment. And especially our children.
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When resources are degraded, we start competing for them, whether it is at the local level in Kenya, where we had tribal clashes over land and water, or at the global level, where we are fighting over water, oil, and minerals. So one way to promote peace is to promote sustainable management and equitable distribution of resources.
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Using trees as a symbol of peace is in keeping with a widespread African tradition. For example, the elders of the Kikuyu carried a staff from the thigi tree that, when placed between two disputing sides, caused them to stop fighting and seek reconciliation. Many communities in Africa have these traditions.
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I would like to call on young people to commit themselves to activities that contribute toward achieving their long-term dreams. They have the energy and creativity to shape a sustainable future. To the young people I say, you are a gift to your communities and indeed the world. You are our hope and our future.
As I swept the last bit of dust, I made a covenant with myself: I will accept. Whatever will be, will be. I have a life to lead. I recalled words a friend had told me, the philosophy of her faith. "Life is a journey and a struggle," she had said. "We cannot control it, but we can make the best of any situation." I was indeed in quite a situation. It was up to me to make the best of it.
We think that diamonds are very important, gold is very important, all these minerals are very important. We call them precious minerals, but they are all forms of the soil. But that part of this mineral that is on top, like it is the skin of the earth, that is the most precious of the commons.
Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.
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It was easy to persecute me without people feeling ashamed. It was easy to vilify me and project me as a woman who was not following the tradition of a 'good African woman' and as a highly educated elitist who was trying to show innocent African women ways of doing things that were not acceptable to African men.
We're constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. [But] we should always feel like a hummingbird. I may feel insignificant, but I don't want to be like the other animals watching the planet go down the drain. I'll be a hummingbird, I'll do the best I can.
Every one of us can make a contribution. And quite often we are looking for the big things and forget that, wherever we are, we can make a contribution. Sometimes I tell myself, I may only be planting a tree here, but just imagine what's happening if there are billions of people out there doing something. Just imagine the power of what we can do.
Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own - indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come
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We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own "" indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.
I stand before you and the world humbled by this recognition and uplifted by the honour of being the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate. As the first African woman to receive this prize, I accept it on behalf of the people of Kenya and Africa, and indeed the world. I am especially mindful of women and the girl child. I hope it will encourage them to raise their voices and take more space for leadership.
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We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind's universal values of love, compassion, solidarity, caring and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy. It should also permeate the extended family of the United Nations.
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Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.
It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur... so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace... those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.
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Education is a very empowering experience, so many people who went to school also managed to improve their quality of life much faster because they could get a job, they could get money. Once people see that you improve your life if you are educated, then education becomes a valuable tool and people want it.
People need open space. People need to bring their children into an area where they can play without restriction." And I was told, "This is development." And I said, "That is not development, definitely not sustainable development, definitely not responsible development. People need fresh air. They can do without buildings. They can do without concrete. But they cannot do without fresh air.
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When these resources are degraded or polluted, then there are fewer of them for the rest of us, and then we start competing for them and eventually as we compete, there are those of us, who have the capacity, who have the ability to be the controllers, to decide who accesses them, how much they access, and eventually there is a conflict. Those who feel marginalized, those who feel excluded, eventually react in an effort to get their own justice, and we have conflict.
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When I went back home, I was constantly being reminded, I'm an African woman, and so there are certain things I shouldn't do, certain ambitions that I should not entertain. That was a problem for me because I had never thought of myself as an African woman, never thought of myself as a woman to begin with. For me the limit was my capacity, my capability.
The way in which we can promote peace, is by promoting sustainable management of our resources, equitable distribution of these resources, and that the only way you can actually do that, is that then you have to have a political, economic system that facilitates that. And then you get into the issues of human rights, justice, economic justice, social justice, and good governance or democratic governance. That's how it ties up.
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Having studied biology really helped me a lot because I quickly understand how biological systems work, and how they fail, and the tragedy of when they fail, because we are dealing with life systems, and when we hear that a species has become extinct, or is threatened, you realize that this could mean that this species will disappear from the face of the earth forever! So that understanding really gives you energy to do something to save it.
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For me, one of the major reasons to move beyond just the planting of trees was that I have tendency to look at the causes of a problem. We often preoccupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all.
Those of us who witness the degraded state of the environment and the suffering that comes with it cannot afford to be complacent. We continue to be restless. If we really carry the burden, we are driven to action. We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!
I have always felt that perhaps women have sometimes almost embraced the same values as men, and the same character as men, because they are in the men's world, and they are trying to fit into a system that men have created. And maybe in truth when there is a critical mass of women who play that role in governments, then we will see whether women can really manage power in a way that is less destructive than the way that men have used power.
I want to do the right things - I want to plant trees, I want to make sure that the indigenous forests are protected because I know, whatever happens, these are the forests that contain biodiversity, these are the forests that help us retain water when it rains and keep our rivers flowing, these are the forests that many future generations will need.
The issue of climate change, it really does bring home the fact that we are on one planet, and that some of the impact of what human beings do in one corner of the world is going to affect people in a distant corner of the world. So we may still feel very far from each other, but we are really very close to each other because of the changes we have made with travel and technology and especially the information technology.
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Today with technological advancement, with the Internet, with planes, with the rate at which we travel - even if you wanted, you cannot hide from the rest of the world. And whether you like it or not, you are part of this global marketplace, and so you might as well understand it, you might as well embrace it, because even if you hide, it will find you.
When you think of all the conflicts we have - whether those conflicts are local, whether they are regional or global - these conflicts are often over the management, the distribution of resources. If these resources are very valuable, if these resources are scarce, if these resources are degraded, there is going to be competition.
I learned in America a long time ago, the three R's, the principle of three R's - reuse, reduce, recycle. And as I say those words, there are so many things individually we can do to reduce - we don't need to consume as much as we are consuming. Reduce. And by reusing, we can reuse a lot of things we just throw into the dumpsite. And reduce the production. The more we reuse, the more we can reduce.
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