Skip to main content

Environmental concerns and solutions featured at Rotary International Convention

Skip to main content

Ecological conservation and corporate responsibility are the focus on day 3 in Singapore


Environmental protection was a central theme on the third day of the 2024 Rotary International Convention in Singapore, which featured an appearance by a globetrotting activist and environment-focused breakout sessions. At the convention’s second general session, a naturalist and an entrepreneur called for greater social and corporate responsibility in addressing environmental problems.

Nacho Dean, who has walked 33,000 kilometers (about 20,000 miles) around the world and has swum between five continents, spoke about the urgency of the environmental crisis.

“During my expeditions, I have seen both sides of the coin: a planet of spectacular beauty ... punished by human action [such as] global warming, biodiversity loss, [and] plastic pollution,” said Dean, who walked through four continents and in 31 countries to raise awareness of climate change. “There is a direct relationship between the health of the environment and the health of humanity.”

Dean outlined numerous ways that environmental problems make people’s daily lives more difficult and more painful.

“The consequences of climate change, noise pollution, and the harmful effects of air and chemical pollution not only affect us physically but also have an impact on our mental health,” he said. “If we want healthier societies, it is imperative to also care for the health of our planet.”

Claire Chiang (shown above), co-founder of the international hospitality company Banyan Group and a member of the Rotary Club of Suntec City, Singapore, spoke about the importance of corporate responsibility.

“We do not need a better world. We need to know how to live and work better,” she said. “Business cannot survive in societies that fail. We have to purposefully pull together ... to focus on our interdependence, not the tensions between business and society.”

  1. At the Rotary International Convention in Singapore, hosts Haresh L. Ramchandani (left) and Louisa Lee address the second general session.

  2. Attendees chat at the Rotary International Convention in Singapore.

  3. Rotary International President-nominee Mário César Martins de Camargo greets visitors in the House of Friendship at the Rotary International Convention in Singapore.

  4. Inspirational speaker Freddie Almazan addresses the second general session of the Rotary International Convention in Singapore.

  5. Attendees of the 2024 Rotary International Convention in Singapore look forward to next year’s convention in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

  6. At the Rotary International Convention in Singapore, Rotary International President-elect Stephanie A. Urchick speaks at the Peace Park in the House of Friendship.

The convention also hosted several breakout sessions on environmental topics, including Creating Hope to End Plastic Soup in the World, Net Zero Now, and Community Action for Fresh Water.

At Saving Endangered Species, From Mountains to Marine, members asked how they could connect their passion for protecting animals and the environment with their commitment to increasing Rotary membership. Some attendees noted that conservation is an important issue for many young people and said that focusing on it would attract potential members and appeal to Rotaractors’ interest in service.

Audience members and panelists from the Rotary Action Group for Endangered Species suggested offering conservation-related tours and volunteer opportunities for Rotaractors. That way, Rotaractors could get involved in making a difference in places that are experiencing (or successfully reversing) ecosystem damage and the loss of species.

The idea echoes participant Thomas L. Tochterman’s belief that his generation should help build “environmental patriotism” in young people. Tochterman’s nonprofit organization, Rhino Mercy, works to prevent poaching of rhinos in Africa.

“The long-term solution to wildlife crime in general is not with the current generation. It’s with the next generation,” said Tochterman, a member of the Rotary Club of Chelan, Washington, USA.

Mina Venkataraman, a member of the Rotary Club of Nilgiris West, Tamil Nadu, India, spoke about the importance of protecting vultures in southern India. The birds she calls “the cleaning crew of the forest” are dying because they eat the remains of big cats and elephants poisoned by farmers who are trying to protect crops and livestock.

Panelists noted that the Rotary Action Group for Endangered Species includes more than a thousand people who have vast expertise and are ready to help Rotary members save animals and plants. They encouraged attendees to contact the action group about projects they’re working on and issues they want to address.

Rotary convention in Singapore opens with cultural events, global scope.

Register for the next Rotary International Convention in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Watch videos from the convention

Read the General Secretary Report to Convention.

– May 2024