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August-September 2021 | Opinion

Nicki Scott – Rotary International Director’s Column

Nicki Scott – Rotary International Director’s Column

Rotary International Director, Nicki Scott, shares her three-year action plan for the future of Rotary.

As we tentatively emerge from an extraordinary year, where we all adapted to challenges unforeseen in Rotary, and as individuals in unison with everyone across the world, it is time to take a deep breath and contemplate the future.

Uncertainty exists but there are some things we know for sure as Rotarians invested in our motto of Service Above Self: we need to come together to help our local and global communities recover.”

So many have experienced so much pain and loss and yet, simultaneously, this pandemic has served as an enormous catalyst for so much change. We now understand the extremes of isolation and unity in shared experiences, irrespective of individual differences.


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Uncertainty exists but there are some things we know for sure as Rotarians invested in our motto of Service Above Self: we need to come together to help our local and global communities recover. 

Our work is closely aligned to the United Nation’s sustainable development goals which provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and into the future. They first coined the phrase Build Back Better in 2006. Let’s take the lessons learned this past year and ask how can we build forward better, fairer and greener?

The answer is a shift in mindset and culture which means changing our behaviour. This is true for everyone including Rotary. Alternative strategies, goals and fresh ideas are embodied throughout the 2021-24 Action Plan for Rotary GB&I which will drive greater collaboration, cohesiveness and continuity. 

If Covid-19 has taught us nothing else it is that we must act in unison for the greater good. 

new normal

Rotarians from all over the world can now collaborate in new ways

Meeting online forced us to look beyond the walls of our clubs and realise the whole world of Rotary is open to us. Our common bond of service transcended club, district and country borders. Those opportunities were always there but it took a global pandemic to help us to think differently. Let’s pause and ask why we do what we do, and does it add value to our members and those we serve.

Rotary is built on a strong foundation of amazing values: friendship, leadership, integrity, diversity and service. It is about treating each other with respect and embracing our individual uniquenesses no matter who we are. It is about being kind and open to engaging with, and learning from, others to embrace our unity as human beings. 

These values will never change. 

It is important that we enjoy our volunteer work with those we are alongside. There is no single right way to offer service. Variety and options that align with many different passions and perspectives are key.

Rotary GB&I is ahead of the game with respect to embracing environmental issues which is now recognised as our new seventh area of focus worldwide. 

In addition to local and global projects, we can personally take action to reduce, reuse and recycle. We also need to track our carbon footprint. This does not mean abandoning in-person gatherings where travel is necessary but it does mean measuring and offsetting that impact. 

There is much to do to help our communities and enable new people of all ages who share our heart for making positive social impact, to discover the gift of giving through Rotary.”

There are many ways that we can progress our Rotary activities in the virtual world, sometimes more effectively with less demand on our personal time, but the value of interpersonal connection and coming together can never be surpassed or replaced entirely. I say let’s combine the value of both in-person and virtual moving forward in all respects from meetings to fundraising and projects.

There is much to do to help our communities and enable new people of all ages who share our heart for making positive social impact, to discover the gift of giving through Rotary. We are all champions of change and now is the time to live up to our promise of being People of Action. Let’s get to work!  #bettertogether #onlytogether

Read RI Director Nicki Scott’s full executive summary in the Rotary GB&I Action Plan 2021-24

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