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February – March 2021 | News

A clean, green new area of focus

A clean, green new area of focus

Raise your recycled glasses! For the first time in Rotary history, we have a new Area of Focus – and it’s focusing on all things clean and green.

The Rotary Foundation’s new grant system was adopted in 2014, when Rotary International supported six key Areas of Focus for Rotary projects.

Now, for the first time in history, a seventh Area of Focus has been unanimously approved by both The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees (TRF) and the Rotary International Board – supporting the environment.

With growing interest in environmentally-based projects in recent years, the decision is a great win for Rotary, the planet, and its people.

In October 2019, TRF Trustee, Ravi Ravindran, moved a motion for environmental issues to form part of its activity. It was unanimously passed, and a task force was selected to recommend how the Areas of Focus were to be altered.

Now, for the first time in history, a seventh Area of Focus has been unanimously approved by both The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees (TRF) and the Rotary International Board – supporting the environment.”

The task force was chaired by the then Rotary International President, Ian Riseley, from Australia. He said: “As a lifelong environmentalist, I am delighted our great organisation has recognised that the environment is a worthy and appropriate destination for our project activity. This is an exciting moment in Rotary history.”

Many environmental projects are already supported by the Foundation, especially since the decision in April last year to add environmental elements within the existing Areas of Focus.

More than $18 million in Foundation global grant funding has been allocated to environment-related projects over the past five years.

Creating a distinct Area of Focus to support the environment will give Rotary members even more ways to bring about positive change in the world and increase our impact.

And while now official, it is certainly not new ground for Rotary, with many past leaders playing an integral role in addressing environmental concerns.

In 1990/91, Rotary International (RI) President Paulo VC Costa from São Paulo, Brazil, made the environment one of his primary causes, creating the Preserve Planet Earth sub-committee, which looked at ways clubs and members could conduct environmental initiatives. “We have finally caught up to Past President Paulo’s vision,” Ian said.

And in an interview with The Rotarian, past RI President Barry Rassin, from the Bahamas, where 80% of land is less than five feet above sea level, stated that climate change is almost personal.

More than $18 million in Foundation global grant funding has been allocated to environment-related projects over the past five years.”

“My country is going to be gone if we do nothing,” Barry said.

“If we’re losing countries due to sea level changes, if stronger storms are disrupting water supplies or destroying people’s livelihoods, that’s more people who are going to be disadvantaged.

“So caring about the environment goes toward our ultimate mission, and we should give it the importance it deserves.”

While the climate change debate sparks passionate opinions across the globe, it is an issue close to the hearts of today’s youth, who are using environmental rights to demand more action to address ecological crises around the world.

Ian says including the environment to Rotary’s Areas of Focus not only broadens Rotary’s grant activity, but could play a crucial role in making the organisation more attractive to younger people and thus assisting membership.

“Of course, it is not just younger people who care about the planet,” he chips in. “As a 73-year-old non-hippie, I am evidence of that!” Grant applications for projects will be accepted from July 1, 2021.

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