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Rotary and UNEP Unite to Safeguard Global Freshwater Ecosystems

'Community Action for Fresh Water' Initiative Aims to Enhance Global Freshwater Through Community-Led Projects

EVANSTON, Ill., USA (11 Jan. 2024) — Under a new strategic partnership, Rotary and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are launching the 'Community Action for Fresh Water' initiative, focusing on the protection of freshwater ecosystems. In response to escalating challenges like pollution, climate change, and habitat degradation, this initiative is set to enhance both the conservation and monitoring of freshwater ecosystems globally.

“Partnering with UNEP empowers Rotary members to significantly contribute to freshwater conservation efforts, beginning with the waterways in their own communities,” said Rotary International President Gordon McInally. “Through this collaboration, our members will bring local solutions to global challenges, directly impacting the health and sustainability of their communities.”

Through this initiative, Rotary will leverage its global network to initiate community-based solutions that directly influence freshwater ecosystems and can be carried out at the watershed level. Members will engage in identifying and protecting important local bodies of water, collaborating closely with local stakeholders. Their activities will encompass organizing cleanup and conservation campaigns, conducting educational initiatives on water conservation, participating in habitat restoration, and monitoring water quality.

“Freshwater ecosystems are essential for the well-being of our planet, providing crucial services from biodiversity stability to water supply for communities,” said Leticia Carvalho, Head of UNEP's Marine and Freshwater Branch. “This collaboration amplifies our efforts at the grassroots level, combining Rotary’s community presence with our expertise to make a meaningful impact, and fostering respect for these vital resources.”

Building on the success of the 'Adopt a River for Sustainable Development' pilot program with Rotary District 9212 in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan, this strategic partnership showcases the potential of linking together community-based environmental efforts. Rotary’s initial 3-year financial commitment to the partnership will fund a range of activities, emphasizing direct action and community involvement.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.4 million members of more than 46,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Rotary clubs are also undertaking impactful environmental projects worldwide, with over US$23.7 million invested by The Rotary Foundation to this end.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP): UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Contact: Claudia Brunner, +41-44-387-7116,