The 45-year-old Green Belt Movement that started to change how we think about the intersections of gender and climate justice. What began with seven seedlings on World Environment Day 1977 has grown into the world's biggest afforestation movement.

Lean Story Canvas
Everyday Hero Everyday Hero

The group or individual to be inspired to do things differently

“Hummingbirds” – they may feel insignificant but understand that any change they make can contribute to a bigger impact. Indigenous communities, particularly women. The network consist of over 4,000 community groups in Kenya, who volunteer to protect their natural environment and practice day to day liberation for women. Children gain exposure through Green Belt projects at their schools. Small farmers learn to appreciate the connections between forestry, soil conservation and their own needs for wood.

Ordinary World Ordinary World

The everyday world which is increasingly frustrating for our hero to live in

Deteriorating environments in rural regions permitted by those in power, impacting women’s social mobility: Dry streams, insecure food supply etc. Gender inequality is a major obstacle to socio-economic and political development.

Better World Better World

The positive change to the hero and the difference the hero has made

Since 1977, the Green Belt Movement has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya. Supporting quality of life for the women and families in Kenya – by educating thousands of low-income women about forestry and creating about 3,000 jobs. The Green Belt Movement improves the livelihoods of the communities involved and creates a greener, cleaner world.

Compelling Villain Compelling Villain

An attention-grabbing manifestation of the selfish behaviour that stands in the way of change

Disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and lack of agency to change political, economic, and environmental circumstances. For years, women, families and communities had been placing their trust in leaders who had betrayed them – working against common good and failing to use their natural resources wisely.

Call to Adventure Call to Adventure

The trigger to change which could be the pull of inspiration or the push of necessity

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.” Wangari Maathai Be a hummingbird. Hope that change can happen, seeing other women and communities empowered and thriving.

Crossing the Threshold Crossing the Threshold

The first step and point of no return

Tree planting initiatives, community advocacy programmes, and campaigning. Working together to grow seedlings and plant “belts” of trees and receive compensation for their work.

Three Challenges Three Challenges

Three difficult but confidence-building hurdles to be overcome

  1. Conserve the environment and build climate resilience, through tree planting and water harvesting communities help to conserve biodiversity, restore ecosystems, and reduce the impact of climate change.
  2. Improved, sustainable and inclusive livelihoods. Over 30,000 women have been trained in forestry, food processing, bee-keeping, and other trades that help them earn income while preserving their lands and resources.
  3. Empowering communities especially women and girls to foster democratic space and advocate for more accountability from national leaders. Mobilized over 5,000 community members through Civic and Environmental Education. Past campaigns include Uhuru Park, Karura Forest, and Mottainai.

Allies and Gifts Allies and Gifts

The people and help that is needed for change to happen

The National Council of Women of Kenya - Maathai joining the council enabled international attention. Funders: World Resources Institute, Global Environmental Facility, The Nature Conservancy etc.

Mentors and Gifts Mentors and Gifts

Giver of wisdom and support

Professor Wangari Maathai, scholar, environmental activist and political leader. The work of Maathai and the Green Belt Movement stands as a testament to the power of grassroots organising, proof that one person’s simple idea can make a difference. Her legacy lives on through the Movement. “Disobedient at a time when disobedience was not tolerated.” The Green Belt Movement works at grassroots, national, and international levels to promote environmental conservation; to build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls; to foster democratic space and sustainable livelihoods, using tree-planting as an entry point.



Everyday heroes. Everyday heroes.

Abuse of Power

Ordinary world. Ordinary world.

Lack of Agency

Compelling villain. Compelling villain.

Seeds of Hope

Call to adventure. Call to adventure.

Planting Belts

Crossing the threshold. Crossing the threshold.

Disobedient Founder and Scholar

Mentor, allies and gifts. Mentor, allies and gifts.

Protected Environment

Challenge. Challenge.

Inclusive Livelihoods

Challenge. Challenge.

Empowered communities

Challenge. Challenge.

Thriving Community and Environment

Better world. Better world.

Visual Storyboard

Everyday heroes.

Ordinary world.

Compelling villain.

Call to adventure.

Crossing the threshold.

Mentor, allies and gifts.




Better world.

Download Storyboard
Story Insight

Story Insight

The Green Belt Movement has mobilised support and action by tapping into a communal mindset to unite their heroes and by telling stories at personal, tribal and world levels. As ‘hummingbirds’ they can feel insignificant but see that any change they make will contribute to significant personal empowerment, community resilience, and worldwide environmental change.


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