R. I. President Message


RI President 2020-21 Holger Knaack - April 2021

Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

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.

President 2020-21

Trustee Chair's Message - April 2021

K.R. Ravindran
Rotary Club of Colombo
Western Province, Sri Lanka

Trustee chair's message

“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.

The Rotary Club of Federal Way, Washington, has made no little plans. As sponsor of the first programmes of scale grant, the club is leading, in partnership with Zambian Rotary clubs and Malaria Partners Zambia, an effort to help end a disease that is widespread in that country. Through the programme, called Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia, Rotary will help train 60 Zambian district health officials, 382 health facility staff, and 2,500 community health workers to save lives; it will also equip them with the necessary supplies and gear to get the job done. Their aim is no less than reducing malaria by 90 per cent in 10 target districts in two of Zambia’s provinces.

Rotary members are also applying the power of partnering by teaming with several organisations. They include Zambia’s Ministry of Health through its National Malaria Elimination Centre — which will ensure that the programme contributes to the national strategy — as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision, which are also investing substantial resources in co-funding and implementing this $6 million programme.

This first programmes of scale grant will inspire others and make a great impact in the years ahead. It is just the latest chapter in the story of Rotary, one that recounts how ordinary citizens unite to not only plan big but also take bold action to help others in need. It is a stirring story that you, the dedicated members of Rotary who support The Rotary Foundation, are helping to write.


K.R. Ravindran
Trustee Chair 2020-21

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