The Nobel Peace Prize has only once been awarded to a recipient for their work in environmental protection, and that honour goes to Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai. Maathai was born in a small village in the central highlands of Kenya. She was one of the 300 Kenyan students selected to study in the United States under what was called the “Kennedy Airlift”, an initiative to give African students a western education. While studying in Pittsburgh, she developed an interest in environmental restoration work which stayed with her when she returned to Kenya some years later after completing a German doctorate in veterinary anatomy. Maathai became a fierce advocate for the environment and founded the Green Belt Movement, a comprehensive reforestation and environmental conservation initiative that was also an important agent for democracy. She has been jailed, participated in hunger strikes and persecuted for her work. Following a change in government, Maathai became Kenya’s Minister for Environment and National Resources and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.