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Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day

The Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day will be held on the Margins of the 6th Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) scheduled for 29 Feb to 1 Mar 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya. This year’s event is themed: ‘Circularity as a Solution to tackling Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Pollution.’ It is organized by SEI in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Green Belt Movement, PACJA, CIFOR-ICRAF, and the Kenya Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry.

29 February to 1 March 2024

Giant tree

Photo: Harkirat Grewal/pexels


Africa Environment Day was designated in 2002, by The Organization of the African Unity Council of Ministers in their meeting in Durban, South Africa based on the recognition of the numerous environmental challenges confronting the African continent. Over the years, they have been further aggravated by the loss of biological diversity, climate change, desertification, increased pollution, and unsafe disposal of wastes and chemicals. In January 2012, the African Union adopted a decision calling for the joint celebrations of the African Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day. The celebration of Wangari Maathai Day is in recognition of the work and life of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, the first African Woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and who dedicated her life to promoting environmental conservation and sustainable development in Africa.

Prof. Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental Non-Governmental Organisation focused on addressing deforestation and environmental degradation and the greater impact of these factors on the livelihoods of rural women who bore the brunt of the negative environmental impact on agriculture and food security thereby leading to disenfranchisement. Prof. Wangari led the fight to protect water catchment areas advocating for the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights in Kenya.

Africa is making steady progress in implementing Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want and achieving its aspirations. However, Africa’s current consumption and production practices pose a clear challenge to the sustainability agenda. The resource-intensive linear economy approach of ‘take, make and waste’ intensifies the continent’s environmental challenges, including waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss, among others. Adopting a circular economy approach in Africa entails taking a much broader approach to addressing these crises beyond waste management, focusing instead on transforming entire value chains, thereby supporting the achievement of Africa’s inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development, as outlined in Agenda 2063. The AU theme for 2024 is ‘Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa’ Education can be used as a tool for attitude and behavioural change through empowering and motivating positive action.

The imperative for Africa to pursue the green economy model is clear, considering that many African economies are heavily dependent on natural resources to fuel economic growth. A large portion of the African population, especially the rural population, is directly dependent on the natural environment for their sustenance and livelihoods. Africa’s transition to green economy has economic as well as social dimensions and implications and hence circularity, being this significant, informs the theme for this year’s Africa Environment Day.


  • To raise awareness and discuss the next steps on circularity as a solution to the triple planetary crisis among all stakeholders at national, regional and continental levels.
  • To accentuate the significance of women’s rights over the use and conservation of natural resources and their subsequent role in tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
  • To explore business models adopted by African countries in scaling up business models including extended producer responsibility (EPR).
  • To raise awareness on the AU Circular Economy Action Plan and the Africa Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and to encourage the development of appropriate policies and strategies at national and regional levels and to enhance circularity.
  • To influence behavioural change and empowerment through education and learning institutions.

Expected Outcomes

  • Encourage the adoption and implementation of the Continental Circular Economy Action Plans and the African Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (ABSAP).
  • Awareness raising at regional and national levels on the need for innovative business models for the production, delivery and use of products that would minimize the use of packaging, circularity and EPR.
  • Policy recommendations for strengthening the rights of women over the use and conservation of natural resources.

 Event format

The event will be organized over 2 days as follows:

  • The first day will be dedicated to workshop sessions including forums on women, youth, Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs) and the other stakeholders’ role in tackling the triple planetary crisis. A presentation on the AU Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan will also be made on Day One.
  • The screening of a short version of the documentary film “Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai”, a dramatic story of Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights and defend democracy, will also be aired on the first day.
  • The second day will be set aside for among other sessions, a high-level session on ‘Effective and Inclusive Actions for tackling Plastic Pollution.’ An overview of the African Union AU Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) will also be presented and deliberated upon during the second day of the event.


The event will be attended by representatives of Member States, development partners, women, youth, indigenous peoples and local community members, academia, researchers, the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders.


Day 1  29.02.2024
Time Activity Moderator
9:00-9:30 AM Participants’ arrival and registration Faith Ngige
9:30-10:00 AM SESSION 1: Opening Session


Welcome Remarks by Harsen Nyambe, Director, Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy, AUC



Nyaguthii Chege, Chairperson, Board of Directors, The Green Belt Movement

Dr. Philip Osano, Centre Director, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Africa

Dr. Augustine Njamnshi, Chair, Political & Technical Committee of Board, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)

Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro, Chief Executive Officer, CIFOR-ICRAF

Dr. Cyrille-Lazare Siewe, Kenya Country Office Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

 H.E. Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment

Hon. Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Kenya

Harsen Nyambe, Director; Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy, AUC



10:00-10:30 AM Group Photo and Tea Break
10:30-11:30 AM SESSION 2: Documentary & Plenary Discussion

Screening of ‘Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai’ documentary (10 minutes)


Plenary Discussion:

Circularity and Circular Economy

Faith Ngige, National Coordinator, Kenya Platform for Climate Governance

Rosalind Mbarire, Chief Executive Officer, RETRAK

Margaret Kamau, Project Manager, Climate Change and Green Growth Division, AfDB

Charlotte Daniels, Programme Management Associate, UNEP

Dr. Ayub Macharia, Chairman of the National Plastic Management Committee, NEMA

Gesore Brian; Sec General, Kenya National Waste Pickers Association

Charles Mwangi, Head of Programmes and Research, PACJA

11:30 AM-12:30 PM SESSION 3: Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Management 

Presentation of AU Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Panel Discussion

Dr. Elvis Tangem, Coordinator, Great Green Wall Initiative, AUC

Dr. Yemi Katerere, Independent Consultant, African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance

Nancy Githaiga, Country Director, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)

Catherine Mungai, Climate Change and Biodiversity Engagement Facilitator, IUCN

Anne Samante, Program Manager, MPIDO

Kevin Muli, Programmes Associate, Conservation Alliance of Kenya

Anna Tjarvar, Counsellor/ Senior Programme Manager Environment, Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Regional Development Cooperation, Sida



Leah Wanambwa; Senior Policy Officer-Climate Change, AUC



12:30-1:30 PM Lunch
SESSION 3: Critical Minerals & Circularity- Value Addition, Benefit Sharing

Panel Discussion:

Joyce Gachugi, Chief Executive Officer, PAKPRO-

Boniface Mbithi, Group CEO, Wee Centre

Beatrice Mjomba, Human Rights Defender, Taita-Taveta-Human Rights Watch

Philip Kilonzo; Head of Policy, Advocacy and Communication, PACJA

Alphonse Muia; UNEP Youth Constituency

Dr. Cyrille-Lazare Siewe, Kenya Country Office Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 

Eugene Nforngwa, Thematic Lead, Just Transition and Energy, PACJA

1:30-5:30 PM Tree planting session and visit to T3 recycling plant

Irene Tindi, Executive Coordinator & Programme Manager, Power of One, Wangari Mathaai Marathon

Day 2  01.03.2024
9:00-10:00 AM SESSION 4: Innovative Business Models for Circularity

Panel Discussion

Margaret Miano, Partnership and Fundraising Coordinator, MESPT

Elizabeth Wathuti, Green Climate Fund Youth Champion, Green Belt Movement

Antony Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM)

Dr. Jane Nyakango, Director, Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre

Teddy Obiero, Chair, Alliance of Nairobi Metropolitan Association

Ahmed Fathy, Coordinator, Youth Loves Egypt/ Youth Advisor for CEO of Global Centre for Adaptation

Faith Ngige, National Coordinator, Kenya Platform of Climate Governance

Coffee Break
10:30-11:30 AM SESSION 5: Presentation of AU Circular Economy Action Plan


Caroline Tagwireyi, Senior Mitigation Officer, Climate Change, AUC

11:30 AM-1:00 PM SESSION 6: Gender-sensitive responses to fighting climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Panel Discussions:

Susan Otieno, Country Director, ActionAid International Kenya

Ciiru Waweru Waithaka, Chief Executive Officer, Anjiru

Dr. Alice Kaudia; Founder & Chairperson, Pristine Sustainable Ecosystems

Idriss Adoum Idriss, Coordinator, Global Youth Biodiversity network, Chad

Mwanahamisi Singano, Programme Manager WEDO


1:00-2:00 PM Lunch
2:00-3:30 PM SESSION 7: Inclusive tenure rights in tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Panel Discussion:

Kazungu Washe, Research Associate – Land Governance, TMG Research

Fridah Gichuhi, Head of Women Rights Programme, IMS Foundation

Kitasi Wanga, Prog Manager Resilient Livelihood & Emergencies, ActionAid Kenya

Grace Lolim, Executive Director, Isiolo Gender Watch,

Audace Kubwimana, the African Regional Coordinator for the International Land Coalition

Eileen Wakesho, Director, Land Environment and Climate, NAMATI
SESSION 8: Effective and Inclusive Actions for tackling Plastic Pollution.

Panel Discussion:

Alexander Mangwiro, Regional Coordinator, Chemicals, Waste and Air Quality, UNEP

Dennis Micheni, Chief Executive Officer, DiscoverBrands Systems

Anastasia Muiti, Coordinator, Adopt a River Project, NEMA

Christine Waithira, Director of Environment, Nairobi County

Joy Bongay, Coordinator PACJA Gambia

Dr. Peter Minang Director for Africa, CIFOR-ICRAF
4:30 PM Closure


Philip Osano
Philip Osano

Centre Director

SEI Africa

Ng’endo Machua-Muniu
Ng’endo Machua-Muniu

Engagement and Impact Officer


SEI Africa

Lawrence Nzuve

Communications Coordinator


SEI Africa

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