His Majesty King Charles III and Wanjira Mathai

NAIROBI (November 1, 2023) — The King and Wanjira Mathai met today for a walk in Nairobi, Kenya’s Karura Forest, highlighting their mutual interest in protecting green spaces and forests in cities, which are vital for addressing climate change and building communities’ resilience to climate impacts such as floods and heatwaves. The event at Karura Forest formed part of a four day State Visit to Kenya.  

The meeting was part of an event to pay tribute to Nobel Laureate the late Professor Wangari Maathai and her work protecting forests in the fight against climate change. During the event, His Majesty and Wanjira Mathai planted a tree in honour of this legacy. His Majesty, as Prince of Wales, and Wangari Maathai shared a deep understanding of the link between poverty and the natural environment, and both spoke out about the rights of all generations and communities to abundant nature and a safe, livable climate.

“The symbolism of His Majesty visiting Karura Forest is a tribute to mom's legacy but also to so many others who sacrificed so much,” said Wanjira Mathai, Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at World Resources Institute. “A friend of my mother, the late Wangari Maathai, who fought to protect this forest, they were pioneers for the environmental cause . Green spaces, both forest and urban like Karura, bring so many benefits, transforming the lives of the communities around them, providing jobs and a habitat to nature’s great species.”  

Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world, with a projected 1.2 billion people living in cities by 2050 — yet much of the infrastructure has yet to be built. Karura Forest, Africa’s largest urban green space, is an example of what can be achieved by protecting green spaces. With at least 50,000 paying visitors a month, the forest provides jobs and education opportunities for surrounding communities, and contributes to keeping the city’s rivers clean.

Research from WRI’s Cities4Forests Initiative has shown how green spaces are our ally in fighting climate change, helping cities mitigate and adapt to climate risks. Green spaces can create jobs, cool people off during heatwaves, reduce flooding, and replenish groundwater to improve water security. Today’s visit emphasises the need to build sustainable cities that are good for climate, nature and the people who live in them.  
Wanjira Mathai said, “His Majesty’s visit is a testament to the importance of protecting natural ecosystems and reforestation, as we face untold losses and damages across the world. The trees planted here today are not just individual units, but part of an ecosystem at the heart of Nairobi and an African legacy to restore and protect our land.”

As Prince of Wales, His Majesty became Patron of WRI in 2018. He is widely recognised as a global leader who has long advocated the need to protect the environment and foster healthy communities around the world.

Background for editors:
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization with offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, and regional offices for Africa and Europe. Our over 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Learn more: WRI.org and on Twitter @WorldResources.