Former Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu has been awarded with the visionary award in the Oceans Awards 2018.
Acknowledging the recognition, the former CS who is now Kenya’s ambassador to France tweeted on Monday: “I’m appreciative of being the winner of the “Visionary Award 2018.” Thanks for your support!”
Prof Wakhungu received the accolade for her work while heading the Environment Ministry – most notably the banning of plastic bags in the county.
The ban was announced in March 2017 and came into effect in August.
She was the joint winner in the category with Kristina Gjerde who is US lawyer breaking new ground in ocean governance.
Also awarded were Fearless campaigner and advocate of new seabed project Norlan Pagal, James Honeyborne and Mark Brownlow for Public Awareness Award, Ben Kibel who is the inventor of ProGlow for the Innovation award while The lead author of the pioneering report on limits of earth’s resources Ben Halpern bagged the Science award.
Also recognized was the establishing the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area which was named the Campaign of the Year.
The Ross Sea is the southernmost part of the Southern Ocean. By 2010, as many as 20 long-line ships were catching about 3,000 tonnes a year, threatening an entire ecosystem; their dwindling numbers affecting killer whales, Weddell seals, sperm whales and giant squid, who all prey on them.
“The only way the unique Ross Sea ecosystem can survive intact was for it to be declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), the world’s largest, in which commercial fishing is banned,”
The visionary award recognises the individual or group that has taken the lead on globally- significant actions for the benefit of ocean health. The winner of this award will have shown consistent leadership and vision on ocean issues, going above and beyond others in their commitment to protecting marine life. This can include important policy initiatives and the people behind them.
Following the ban on plastics in Kenya, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) announced that plastic bottles ban would also be phased out later in the year.