President Kenyatta has congratulated Professor Judi Wakhungu, Kenyan Designate Ambassador to Paris and former Cabinet Secretary for Environment, on winning the Visionary Award at the 2018 Ocean Awards.
The visionary award recognises individuals or groups that take leading roles in globally-significant actions for the benefit of ocean health.
The winner of the award must have shown consistent leadership and vision on ocean issues, going above and beyond others in their commitment in protecting marine life.
Last August, Kenya became the latest country in Africa to ban plastic bags, following the lead set by Rwanda in 2008.
It was the culmination of a long campaign driven by Professor Wakhungu, then Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources since 2013. With the plastic ban, visitors arriving by plane are required to leave duty-free and other plastic carriers at the airport; and they may not be brought ashore from boats.
“I am excited my efforts have yielded this award. The blight caused by plastic bags was becoming an environmental nightmare for our country,” said Prof. Wakhungu when she briefed the President on her latest achievement.
Prof. Wakhungu – a career geologist – has spent most of her professional life in the energy sector, having worked in the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development, investigating the potential of geothermal energy in the Rift Valley.
While congratulating Professor Wakhungu, President Kenyatta noted that Kenya has continuously spoken with a strong voice against the vice of plastics and its adverse effects on environmental pollution and climate change.
“For the wellbeing and sustainability of our ecosystems and in the full knowledge of a changing climate, we need to seek sustainable eco-friendly solid waste management systems,” said President Kenyatta.
Prior to the ban, an estimated 24 million bags were handed out each month across the nation making it an average of 86,000 a day in Nairobi alone.
The magnitude of the plastics menace became obvious when 24 tonnes of plastic waste was collected from Lake Nakuru National Park in 2016.