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Rotary-UNEP Partnership

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The key to protecting and sustaining natural ecosystems is engaging, educating, and motivating the communities that live close to those ecosystems. For this reason, community-based Rotary and Rotaract clubs are key actors in the Community Action for Fresh Water initiative.

Community Action for Fresh Water is the flagship initiative of Rotary’s partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Through this initiative, Rotary and Rotaract members work with their local communities and partners to protect, restore, and sustain freshwater ecosystems in alignment with the environment area of focus. The strategic partnership between Rotary and the United Nations launched in 2023.

Healthy freshwater systems are vital for flourishing and vibrant societies, but these systems are threatened by climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution. Rotary members around the world have already been active in protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems.

Community Action for Fresh Water (CAFW) incorporates, learns from, and expands upon the success of Rotary members who have been protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems under the pilot program “Adopt a River for Sustainable Development” which began with UNEP and Rotary District 9212 (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan) in 2020 and has expanded worldwide.

The partnership connects Rotary’s member resources and expertise mobilizing volunteers with the technical expertise from UNEP to make even more of a sustainable, long-term environmental impact. UNEP is the leading organization within the United Nations system in the field of the environment with the global mandate for the conservation, protection, enhancement, and support of nature and natural resources, including biological diversity.

How members can get involved in Community Action for Fresh Water

Rotary and Rotaract clubs, either individually or in groups, can decide to make a commitment to protect, restore, and sustain a local river, lake, estuary, natural reservoir, or wetlands area.

Then, clubs can work with other community groups and residents to determine any major threats the body of water is facing and develop a plan of action in coordination with relevant local groups.

To start with, this could mean holding a river cleanup day and implementing a community awareness campaign. After that, clubs might hold ongoing restoration or stewardship activities, start performing basic water quality measurements, and develop project plans. Even more advanced activities could follow including citizen science and communication of those observed environmental trends to decision makers.

Rotary and Rotaract clubs are central to the Community Action for Fresh Water initiative, working closely with nongovernmental organizations, private enterprises, or government agencies to make a positive impact on their communities by improving their freshwater ecosystems.

Working toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals

This partnership works toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those that contribute to clean water and sanitation (number 6), climate action (number 13), and life on land (number 15).

Are you already working to protect freshwater resources? Or is your club ready to make a commitment to restoring and sustaining a body of fresh water? Provide your project details and contact information by filling out the survey:


Community Action for Fresh Water - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Community Action for Fresh Water - Guide to Getting Started (PDF)


If you have questions or want to find out more, please write to us at