“It is with sadness that we have heard of the passing away of Kenya’s Nobel Peace laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai,” said a statement by EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.
“Professor Maathai’s death is a great loss to the environmentalist movement but also to pro-democracy and women’s rights movements across Africa and beyond,” she said in a statement co-signed by the EU’s environment commissioner.
“As the first African woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, she will be remembered for her bold action on environmental sustainability, women’s empowerment and democratic rights,” Ashton underlined.
Maathai, who died of cancer at the age of 71, was instrumental in planting some 40 million trees across Africa.
US President Barack Obama, who has Kenyan ancestry, also expressed his “great sadness” on Monday to Maathai’s family and the Kenyan people.