President Kenyatta has congratulated former Environment CS Judi Wakhungu on winning the Visionary Award at the 2018 Ocean Awards.
Wakhungu is currently the Designate Ambassador to France.
The visionary award recognises individuals or groups that take leading roles in globally-significant actions for the benefit of ocean health.
The winner must have shown consistent leadership and vision on ocean issues, going above and beyond others in their commitment in protecting marine life.
Last August, Kenya became the latest country in Africa to ban plastic bags, following the lead set by Rwanda in 2008.
The award was the culmination of a long campaign driven that Wakhungu drove since 2013. With the plastic ban, visitors arriving by plane are required to leave duty-free and other plastic carriers at the airport; and they may not be brought ashore from boats.
“I am excited that my efforts have yielded this award. The blight caused by plastic bags was becoming an environmental nightmare for our country,” she said when she briefed the President on her latest achievement.
Wakhungu – a career geologist – has spent most of her professional life in the energy sector, having worked in the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development and investigating the potential of geothermal energy in the Rift Valley.
While congratulating her, the President noted that Kenya has continuously spoken with a strong voice against the adverse effects of plastics on the environment and the climate.
“For the wellbeing and sustainability of our ecosystems and in the full knowledge of a changing climate, we need to seek sustainable eco-friendly solid waste management systems,” Uhuru said.
Prior to the ban, an estimated 24 million bags were handed out each month across the nation. An average of 86,000 bags were handed out each day in Nairobi alone.
The magnitude of the plastics menace became obvious when 24 tonnes of plastic waste were collected from Lake Nakuru National Park in 2016.