Presented by Shekhar Mehta, Rotary International President 2021-22, at a private audience during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Shekhar Mehta expressed appreciation for the dedication of His Royal Highness toward sustainability and biodiversity and noted Rotary’s shared commitment to protecting the environment.
Afterwards, the Rotary International President Tweeted: “Prince Charles profusely thanked Rotary for the honour and spent 30 minutes discussing collaborative, humanitarian activities with Rotary and his charity.”
During COP26, the United Nations climate summit held last November in Glasgow, Scotland, the Prince of Wales encouraged environmentalists to seek nature-based solutions to global warming.
Prince Charles profusely thanked Rotary for the honour and spent 30 minutes discussing collaborative, humanitarian activities with Rotary and his charity.”
“After billions of years of evolution, nature is our best teacher,” the Prince of Wales said. “In this regard, restoring natural capital, accelerating nature-based solutions and leveraging the circular bio-economy will be vital to our efforts.”
Shekhar Mehta, who at COP26 led a roundtable discussion with Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, emphasised the critical role mangroves play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Mangroves sequester large amounts of carbon and also protect against storm surges and coastal erosion, filter pollutants, and provide habitat for aquatic life, among other benefits.
Over the past six years, the Rotary Foundation has supported sustainable, community-based solutions to addressing threats to the environment, directing $18 million in grant funds toward environmental projects.
Protecting the environment is one of Rotary’s areas of focus and Rotary clubs are positioned to make a difference in broader environmental efforts, including mangrove restoration.
Of the 54 Commonwealth countries, 33 contain mangrove ecosystems that together represent 22% of the world’s mangroves. Over the last half century, 50% of the world’s mangrove systems have been lost due to climate change and rapid urbanisation.
“The sea is washing away coastlines because mangroves are disappearing,” said Shekhar Mehta. “We are losing our ecosystem. Once mangroves die, our marine system and coastal communities will be lost.”
Through pioneering initiatives such as becoming one of the first countries to ban plastic bags, Rwanda is committed to becoming a green, climate resilient and low-carbon economy by 2050 as part of its national development strategy.
The sea is washing away coastlines because mangroves are disappearing,” said Shekhar Mehta. “We are losing our ecosystem. Once mangroves die, our marine system and coastal communities will be lost.”
Local Rotary clubs are taking action towards achieving this goal, having trained over 800 subsistence farms on agroecology and agroforestry methods. They have also led reforestation projects, and supported smallholder farmers to access biogas and green cooking energy.
The Rotary Award of Honour was established by Rotary International in 1990 to be given to heads of state and other dignitaries who have made a significant contribution to international understanding and goodwill.