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This year, we celebrate Earth Day on April 22 with a new sense of purpose. The environment is now an area of focus for Rotary. Solutions for all great tasks always start with you and me, and there is much we as individuals can do simply by changing our behaviour: Cutting down on our use of plastic and using energy wisely are just two examples. But now we have the opportunity to do more together.
Supporting the environment is not new to Rotary; clubs have long worked on environmental issues based on local needs. Now climate change — a problem that affects us all, rich and poor — requires us to work together more closely than ever. Alberto Palombo, a Venezuelan engineer living in Brazil and a member of TRF Cadre of Technical Advisers, shares his view.
For 30 years, my work has been to connect with communities and policy officials to take care of the environment. Today, I am excited about ­Rotary’s opportunities to help reduce environmental ­degradation and make communities more environmentally sustainable.
In every community where we have a Rotary, Rotaract, or Interact club or a Rotary Community Corps, there are environmental challenges. As Rotary members, we can become stewards of environmental sustainability and adopt the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in our daily lives at home and in our clubs. Then we can incorporate them into our Rotary projects.
My club has been involved with water and environment projects since day one. We seek opportunities to empower Rotarians and foster partnerships in our region and beyond, working with groups such as the Inter-American Water Resources ­Network and the World Water Council. Local clubs worked with the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Rotary Action Group (wasrag.org) to help Rotary get a seat at the table during the 2018 World Water Forum in Brasilia, where we discussed how communities can recover from environmental disasters like the one caused by the failure of a mining dam on Brazil’s Rio Doce in 2015.
Taking care of the earth is an effort that never stops. To make an impact, we must align our knowledge, abilities and enthusiasm — and Rotary is already great at doing this. As a volunteer with the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (esrag.org), I have seen how our work for the environment dovetails with much of what we are already doing in water and in our other areas of focus. Rotary members are not passive spectators; we take action. Let’s work together and make a positive impact.
Support from The Rotary Foundation will define this new chapter in our service. Through district and global grant projects, we will build upon our previous projects that help the environment. We will look for ways to collaborate more closely and make a greater impact on global environmental issues. And we will incorporate environmental concerns into all of our programmes, projects and events.
Rotaractors and participants in our youth programmes expect Rotary to take a clear position and provide leadership with vision. We will work with them, seeking intelligent solutions to the problems they will inherit. Our incredible members, networks, and Foundation give us the capacity to make an important and lasting contribution. Now, we will discover together how Rotary Opens Opportunities to help us expand our service to preserve the home we all share.
Holger Knaack
President 2020-21
Source: Rotary International
“Make no little plans,” American architect Daniel Burnham said. “They have no magic to stir our blood and probably themselves will not be realised.”
When Rotary heeds Burnham’s advice and follows through with action, we shine. We made big plans when we spearheaded a global initiative to eradicate polio; last year the World Health Organisation’s African region was certified polio-free.
When the coronavirus hit about a year ago, The Rotary Foundation quickly mobilised and awarded 319 Covid specific disaster response grants for $7.9 million. To date, we have further awarded 317 Covid global grants for about $24.1 million, which, combined with previously approved global grants that grant sponsors repurposed to support coronavirus response, has made for a total outflow of more than $32.7 million.
We are now thinking big again, through our programmes of scale grants. We will award a $2 million grant annually to one project that aligns with one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus. The grant should solve problems for many people in a large geographic area through a measurable and sustainable approach within a three-to five-year period. It also requires like-minded partners who are committed and resourceful. The idea is also to replicate these programmes in different communities around the world, applying the lessons learned.

Rotary and its GPEI partners celebrate a monumental achievement, say global eradication of wild polio is possible with the continued dedication and persistence of Rotarians

The World Health Organization (WHO) on 25 August announced that transmission of the wild poliovirus has officially been stopped in all 47 countries of its African region. This is a historic and vital step toward global eradication of polio, which is Rotary’s top priority.
Stories from Around the World
Inaugural Programs of Scale Grant Honors Those Leading Malaria Treatment Efforts in Zambia

By building on a proven concept — such as efforts to stamp out malaria in Zambia — Rotary’s new multimillion-dollar Programs of Scale grants help make good better.

$15.5 million gift will fund new Rotary Peace Center in Middle East or North Africa

The Otto and Fran Walter Foundation has pledged $15.5 million to The Rotary Foundation to start a Rotary Peace Center in the Middle East or North Africa.

11 eco-friendly service projects around the world

Through the years, Rotary has carried out thousands of projects to protect the environment.

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