Yesterday I delivered the keynote speech at the exhibition, “Women Pioneers for the Environment and Nature Conservation – 1899 to the Present” in Berlin, Germany, organised by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The exhibition celebrated twenty one visionary women. I was humbled to be included. These women are from all over the world, from very different disciplines. But they have all made outstanding contributions to the protection of the environment. From Wangari Maathai’s pioneering Green Belt Movement, which has helped thousands of communities in Africa and transformed sustainable development, to Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking conservation work in Tanzania, to Ursula Sladek’s innovative energy entrepreneurship in Germany, to Angela Merkel’s leadership as the first woman to head the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, and to become Chancellor of Germany, to Birkel Lemke’s campaign in Turkey to prevent gold mining companies from fatally contaminating ecosystems with arsenic: they have all improved lives, and effected substantial change for good.