Wangari Maathai to Present Keynote Address at 2007 ESRI User Conference

Redlands, California--Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and world-renowned environmentalist and social activist, will be the keynote speaker on Monday, June 18, 2007, at the 27th Annual ESRI International User Conference. The conference, which is the largest in the world devoted to geographic information system (GIS) technology, will be held June 18-22 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California (www.esri.com/uc).

"We're extremely honored to have Wangari Maathai as this year's keynote speaker," says Jack Dangermond, president, ESRI. "For nearly 30 years, she has been making a difference in the environment and in people's lives through her dedication and work as an environmentalist, civil society and women's rights activist, parliamentarian, and author. The work she does through the Green Belt Movement makes a positive impact by planting tens of millions of trees throughout Kenya, and it empowers people to improve their communities. We're looking forward to having her speak to our users and share her life experiences."

The annual ESRI International User Conference draws GIS users from more than 120 countries. Thousands of attendees come to meet new people and visit with familiar faces, share and collaborate, learn about ESRI's latest technology and services, acquire new skills, and much more. One of the many User Conference highlights is the keynote speaker presentation, which has previously included speakers such as former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey and world-renowned chimpanzee expert, conservationist, and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall.

Nobel Prize Winner Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement

Wangari Maathai is founder of the Green Belt Movement (GBM), one of the most prominent women's civil society organizations, based in Kenya. In 2004, she became the first African woman and the first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in GBM and its impact on people and the planet.

GBM has assisted hundreds of thousands of women and their families to improve their lives through the planting of trees. It also conducts educational campaigns to raise awareness about women's rights, civic empowerment, and the environment throughout Kenya and Africa.

The mission of GBM is to help communities worldwide protect the environment and promote good governance and cultures of peace. Founded in 1977, GBM began as a grassroots tree planting program to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion, and lack of water; it is now a vehicle for empowering women. The act of planting trees is helping women throughout Africa become stewards of the natural environment. By protecting the environment, these women are also becoming powerful champions for sustainable management of scarce resources such as water; equitable economic development; good political governance; and, ultimately, peace.

Today, more than 40 million trees have been planted across Africa. The result: soil erosion has been reduced in critical watersheds, thousands of acres of biodiversity-rich indigenous forest have been restored and protected, and hundreds of thousands of women and their families are standing up for their rights and those of their communities and so are living healthier, more productive lives.

You can read about the life of Wangari Maathai and her organization through her two books, Unbowed: A Memoir and The Green Belt Movement. Also, visit http://greenbeltmovement.org to learn more.

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