- Having worked with Professor Mbote for over two decades, I couldn’t be more proud of her for this feat.
- She lives by the mantra that paths are made by walking and by getting this quote, she has shown how true that mantra is.
- For someone who has been a career academic and scholar in environmental law, although various positions might have suited him and ran for many, including Chief Justice of Kenya, leading Unep’s legal division is not only more glamorous.
In a country where shortcuts have become the way of life, it is extremely rewarding when one succeeds solely on the basis of competence. This was the situation this week when the news leaked about the appointment of Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote as director of the Law Division of the United Nations Environment Program (Unep).
Having worked with Professor Mbote for over two decades, I couldn’t be more proud of her for this feat. She lives by the mantra that paths are made by walking and by getting this quote, she has shown how true that mantra is.
For someone who has been a career academic and scholar in environmental law, while various positions might have suited him and ran for many, including the Chief Justice of Kenya, leading Unep’s legal division is not only more glamorous but which is also appropriate. .
A few months ago, this column celebrated the death of another renowned academic in environmental law, Professor Charles Okidi. I had the privilege of learning and finally working with professors Okidi and Mbote, first as my PhD supervisors and then as mentors.
In one of our discussions, we joked that if Professor Okidi was the father of environmental law, Professor Mbote was without a doubt the mother of the discipline.
That is why several of the friends who received the news of this appointment rushed to link these two giants, noting that one looked from the sky with enormous satisfaction and pride at the international recognition of his successor in the discipline.
For those who know Professor Mbote, she is passionate, dedicated and not conceited. Lead a disciplined and consistent life. There are several features that make it stand out.
First is your commitment to academia. Academics are required to teach, research, and perform community service. She has done and continues to do so effortlessly and with zeal.
Anyone who has had the privilege of attending your class will attest that teaching is not a job but something you do as a commitment. She will not miss class. You will not overlook your lessons or treat students badly.
His commitment to research is exemplified in the many publications he has written, the number of scholarships he has won, and the many teams he has led and participated with.
From discussions with communities in Turkana and Samburu, to Brazil and Uganda, to engagements with legislators and international experts, she is eloquent and scholarly.
Professor Mbote deeply believes in the next generation. Those who have studied environmental law will be familiar with the term intergenerational equity. It’s about fairness between generations.
One of the best ways to do this is to provide the younger members of society with both skills and opportunities. This is what mentoring is all about.
It’s about teaching people to fish and then moving on to offer them a chance to fish while you watch. While many older professionals find it difficult to guide others, this is second nature to the teacher. You will rarely find her working alone on a task.
When one of your mentees grows up and is successful, they are always there to celebrate.
However, from time to time some disappoint. However, even on such occasions, you will hear her gracefully say that the beautiful are not yet born and will proceed to identify more rough diamonds to help sharpen.
The world is in the midst of a pandemic, one that has tested what we know and exposed our limitations. It requires innovative thinking and testing new ideas.
It is exciting that one of the key organizations in the process of reinventing our future and charting a path towards greater respect for Mother Nature and the interactions humans have with her, has chosen Professor Mbote as one of its top leaders.
In it, the organization and the world have a global thinker, who is always eager to try new ideas and believes in collaboration. The years to come require leaders who are clear-minded but also humble enough to seek input from all stakeholders.