Gertrude Kabusimbi Kenyangi, winner of the Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award 2015, XIV World Forestry Congress 2015

During the recent World Forestry Congress, Ugandan civil society observer to the Forest Investment Program (FIP) of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and Executive Director of Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN), Gertrude Kenyangi Kabusimbi was conferred with the 2015 Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award. 

The award, inaugurated in 2012 by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), recognizes outstanding efforts to improve and sustain forests.  It is named in honor of the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai. 

Kabusimbi has dedicated more than two decades of her career to safeguarding tropical forests in the Mbarara and Ntungamo districts of Uganda. Working with SWAGEN, she has overseen the planting of more than one million trees in the Rwoho Natural Forest buffer zone leading to significant climate, social and economic benefits. 

In the context of the CIF, civil society observers are vital to supporting the transparency and accountability of decision making as well as action on the ground. Having been an observer since 2012, Kabusimbi has been a strong advocate for targeted forest action at the grassroots level and the sustainable management of natural resources. 

Speaking in support of Ms. Kabusimbi, Mafalda Duarte, Manager of the Climate Investment Funds stated: “Gertrude’s recognition with such a prestigious award is a testament to her wonderful work with sustainable forestry, not least in her role as an observer to the FIP where she has helped ensure even greater country ownership for those countries working with the FIP.” 

Looking ahead, Kabusimbi intends to replicate and scale up the grassroots approaches with which she is familiar in an effort to influence global policy. 

The CPF is an informal, voluntary arrangement among 15 international organizations, including the World Bank Group, seeking to promote sustainable management of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term-political commitment to this end. 

Photo by ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto.