Eric Ngúgì Mwangi, founder and chief executive of Unganisha Cultures, originally envisioned himself becoming a news anchor. When Wangarĩ Maathai, a Kenyan social, environmental and political activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize and became the first African woman to do so, she inspired Mwangi to step into the climate space.
She always shared the story of the hummingbird that saw the forest burning and decided to do something, unlike [the] other animals,” says Mwangi. “That changed my perspective about nature and now I understand the purity of green spaces.”
Unganisha Cultures is an art-based organisation that focuses on issues of environmental crime in east Africa. Formed in 2019, with Mwangi at the helm, they aim to sensitise local communities about environmental crimes through art, and advocate for environmental policies at national and regional levels.
Through his work with Unganisha, Mwangi discovered the importance of the wealth of services the natural environment offers us — although they’re difficult to measure monetarily. He also highlights that ecosystem services are integral to our functioning as a society, especially when it comes to clean air, water purification, food and medicine production, and the reduction in pollution.
His most important work with Unganisha includes a policy brief and an investigative documentary on sandalwood trafficking in east Africa, which has since empowered affected communities to launch the first sandalwood research centre in the region.
To combat the climate emergency, Mwangi believes we need to focus more on using organic raw materials for production to minimise carbon emissions.
“Let’s focus on creating a balance between increasing our forest cover and food sustainability,” says Mwangi. “It’s painful that people in Africa are dying from hunger in the 21st century. We need to create a green and sustainable habitat.
We need to focus more on using organic raw materials for production