Hamburg convention provides fresh focus

Hamburg convention provides fresh focus

Rotary’s four-day convention has come to a close, with President Barry Rassin once again re-emphasising the organisation’s commitment towards the total eradication of polio.

The curtain came down on the 110th annual Rotary Convention in Hamburg on June 5th.

More than 600 Rotarians and Rotaractors from Great Britain and Ireland attended the four-day showcase in the north German city, which attracted around 25,000 delegates from across the world.

In his keynote address, Rotary President Barry Rassin said: “Service to others is an integral part of our mission, whether it’s through the plans and actions of individual clubs, Rotary’s six areas of focus, or the transformational support of The Rotary Foundation.

“And the service that most defines us and our global mission is the ongoing goal to rid the world of polio.”

Alongside partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has achieved a 99.9% reduction in polio cases since spearheading the initiative more than 30 years ago.

Since then, Rotary members have contributed $1.9 billion (£1.49 billion) and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from polio.

We’re truly on the cusp of eradicating a disease for only the second time in human history.”

Today, just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rotary is committed to raising $50 million (£39.3 million) per year, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars through a matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Including the matching funds, Rotary is committing another $102 million (£80.1 million) this year to fund polio eradication efforts in 13 countries.

Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization presented on the progress and global significance of the initiative.

He said: “We’re truly on the cusp of eradicating a disease for only the second time in human history.

“Our responsibility is nothing less than to ensure that no child anywhere will ever again be paralysed by the poliovirus.”

During the four-day event, attendees heard from an array of world class speakers, including:

Rotary Foundation Chair, Brenda Cressey, stated that being part of Rotary has been one of the great joys of her life and leading Rotary Foundation has been one of the most gratifying experiences she has ever had. She described the Foundation as the life blood of Rotary and explained how, under the new model, there are three times as many global grants. With a new rigour to the grants assessments, these meet sustainable local needs to create lasting improvements. Since July 1st, the Foundation has raised $331.9 million (£260.8 million). Brenda said that these contributions by Rotarians give people hope, dignity and a chance to improve their communities.

Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development stressed Germany’s commitment to development and public health. He said: “Let us create a world without hunger and strengthen the role of women in all countries of the world.”

Rotary General Secretary, John Hewko, said that leadership was one of Rotary’s core values and it has been a beacon, guiding activities for the last 114 years. He explained that Rotary’s actions are guided by a special combination of leadership and integrity, since leadership without integrity was nothing more than self-interest. Rotary’s new strategic plan will be rolled out this year. John said that the plan is tailored to serving the diverse demographics of the current membership and the Rotary members of tomorrow. It will be launched in the next Rotary year to keep Rotary not only relevant, but also thriving, he said. The plan is structured by four strategic priorities: to increase Rotary’s impact, to expand Rotary’s reach, to enhance participant engagement, and increase Rotary’s ability to adapt. Rotary is the first global service organisation to conduct an empirical analysis of our volunteers’ impact. The Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Studies in Baltimore, USA, has estimated that Rotary members commit more than 45 million volunteer hours a year with an economic value of $850 million (£667.8 million).

On the closing day, Eckart Diepenhorst, CEO of mytaxi, presented a check for €70,000 (£62,000), representing 100% of the proceeds from all rides to and from the convention centre to support a series of German Rotary club projects.

Rotary is on the brink of ending polio now and forever.

End Polio