Governor’s March Message: Protecting the Environment

Protecting the Environment is our Rotary Foundation’s seventh Area of Focus.
Cindi O'Neil

Cindi O'Neil

District Rotary Foundation Chair

The Rotary Foundation’s Seventh Area of Focus

By DG Cindi O’Neil

Protecting the Environment is our Rotary Foundation’s seventh Area of Focus.  And I think you will agree that its about time Rotary also focused on this critical aspect of our work here and around the world.  Protecting the Environment will enhance our ability to prevent disease, reduce air pollution, continue to create clean water for the world, reduce hunger, and avoid international conflict.  Without integrating consideration for the larger scale environment in all the projects we endeavor to complete, we will not be successful long term.  And this part of our mission: “to create lasting change.”

Past RI President Ian Riseley in 2017: “Environmental degradation and global climate change are serious threats to everyone, Riseley said. “They are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility.”

The new Rotary focus on our environment suggests many facets of the problems with actionable targets:

  • Protect and restore land, coastal, marine and freshwater resources
  • Enhance the capacity of communities to manage and conserve natural resources
  • Support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and aquaculture practices
  • Address the cause of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Strengthen ecosystems and communities that are affected by climate change
  • Support education to promote behaviors that protect the environment
  • Advocate for sustainable consumption to build economy that uses resources more efficiently
  • Address environmental justice issues and public health concerns

Sustaining our ecosystem’s ability to withstand change whether it be social, economic, physical or biological is I think of utmost concern to me in these times of apparent, rapid climate change.  I think a lot about the phrase, “Strengthen ecosystems and communities that are affected by climate change.”  In Oregon we simply need to make communities aware of how to protect themselves from the wildfire scenarios we experienced last fall.  State and federal land managers know how to do this.  We need to connect communities to these experts.  Rotary could help make the connections between these land managers and community government.

But we also need to find ways to significantly reduce the carbon load in the atmosphere.  I invite you to educate yourselves about a carbon capture solution presented in the new movie “Kiss the Ground.”  It is a simple, sustainable, innovative solution to commercial agricultural practices that could spread worldwide.  Rotary could help bring this agricultural practice to the world.

July 1, 2021 The Rotary Foundation will begin issuing Global Grant funds for Protection of the Environment.  What will our District bring forward to help protect our earth, our home, our future?

To join our District 5110 Committee for the Environment contact District Committee Chair Nikki Rizzardini at  To learn more about the Rotary Foundation’s seventh Area of Focus, click here.