Help save the planet: Ian Riseley’s call


By Tony Thomas, Rotary Club of Central Melbourne 

Ian  Riseley, Rotary International President for 2017-18, issued a call at the Atlanta Convention on June 14 for Rotary to join the campaign  to save the planet from environmental destruction. He did not mention global warming and CO2 emissions but was clearly referring to them.

“It is past time for Rotary to recognise the need for sustainability in everything we do, for the good of Rotary and for the survival of our planet,” he told his 20,000-strong audience in his closing address.

“Today environmental issues threaten us all. (Applause). They are having a disproportionate impact on those who are  most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility. Yet environmental concerns  barely register on the Rotary agenda. The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not a  Rotary concern. It is and must be everyone’s concern.”

He called on each club worldwide to plant at least one tree per member to raise environmental awareness, “and recognise our responsibility not only to the people of our planet but to the planet itself on which we live and depend.”

Other points by Ian – who is from Sandringham Rotary Club – were:

  • Rotary had taken the past 10 years to raise the proportion of women members from 13% to 20% and at that rate would take another three decades to achieve gender parity. This must be prioritised immediately
  • Only 5% of reported membership is under 40. Most are over 60. “Consider what Rotary will look like in 10-20 years if we don’t get serious about attracting and bringing in younger members to create new generations of members and leaders.”
  • He will ask all clubs to report cash and equivalents invested in humanitarian service, and hours worked in Rotary’s name. This data will be aggregated – not used in any inter-club competitive way – for Rotary’s public relations and marketing.

Ian battled a severe cold throughout his address.

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