I think Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize 2004) has done a great deal of good for progressive environmental politics in Africa and the world. In creating the Green Belt movement, she integrated the concepts of free democratic politics and environmental protection — stating that without transparent government and corporate procedure, people could have no recourse in protecting their country’s natural legacy — and thus conceptually advanced environmental politics, linking causes of the environment to causes of justice as early as the mid-80s (despite massive pressures from the government of Kenya and corporate interests across the world).
The systems of education and environmental outreach the Green Belt movement helped create as early as twenty-five years ago are still in place in Kenya, and Maathai remains an integral figure in mobilizing people against the corruption of natural resources.
The first cited link below directs to a fascinating documentary made in 2008 about Maathai’s politics and personal journey; the second to the Green Belt movement’s homepage. Maathai’s 2006 memoir, Unbowed, is also an excellent resource.
I think Al Gore is probably the most environmentally influential Nobel Peace Prize winner. Not to say that he has done the most work or has actually been a positive influence on environmentalism, but when you think Al Gore you do automatically think “An Inconvenient Truth”. He has done a lot for raising awareness to environmental issues, but has also done a lot of negative because he has made the problems sort of a joke to a lot of people.
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