For many, the Bahamas is a place to escape colder climes, relax on white-sand beaches, and snorkel in clear, turquoise waters. For me, it’s home. I grew up sailing on these waters and to this day, anytime I can, I am out on the water with family and friends. It’s where my heart is.
The environmental threats my country is facing are real. Our coral reefs, vital for biodiversity, are in danger due to warming seas and pollution. Hurricanes and tropical storms seem to get more intense with each passing year. Rising sea levels pose an existential threat to the Bahamas, eroding our beautiful coastlines as saltwater intrudes on our precious and limited freshwater resources.
Late last year, I was fortunate to represent Rotary at COP28, the United Nations climate change convention in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The consensus coming out of the meeting was that progress on addressing climate change has been too slow. Participants said the world needs to pick up the pace to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help communities become more resilient to climate change, and better support countries that are most vulnerable to it.
Rotary can be part of the solution.
As you know, protecting the environment is one of Rotary’s areas of focus. Many clubs are active in their communities with projects such as beach and roadside cleanups. With The Rotary Foundation, you can increase your impact by pooling resources with clubs and districts around the world. Foundation grants let you put the generous contributions of your fellow Rotary members to work to make the world better.
Imagine the possibilities. Perhaps Rotary districts in Canada and Australia could protect wetlands in New South Wales in Australia. Rotary leaders from Brazil, India, and Taiwan could lead grant projects to train farmers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in sustainable agriculture. Rotary and Rotaract clubs from the Bahamas, South Africa, and New York could work with their districts to help my country restore its natural resources, one reef or mangrove at a time.
The problems our environment faces seem overwhelming until you realize that many are fixable. There are so many ways to help through Rotary. Even if we don’t lead a grant or volunteer on the project, we can all help protect the environment through our giving to the Foundation.
Rotary can’t save the planet all by itself. But as our progress in ending polio proves, Rotary’s impact is great when we put our vision for a better world in motion, and just get started.