In the light of the major historical roles that Rotary International (RI) has played in the establishment of the United Nations after World War II and the almost complete eradication of the health challenge of polio, we believe it is now time for RI to again play a major international role.

We propose that RI uses its world-wide presence, with its 1.2 million members in 37,500 clubs in over 200 countries, and its ethical Four-way Test of being fair and beneficial to all concerned, to lead and take action with a  much greater international stand on the issues of Climate Change.

We believe the immediacy of the Climate Crisis requires RI to use its presence at the COP 26 Conference as a catalyst to begin to take relevant and significant action as the leading international Civil Society organisation it is and, thereafter, to further strategize actions which will indeed “change lives” as its 2021 motto encourages.  This will, in fact, enable RI to save the lives of many more – especially the lives of future generations for whom the current Climate Crisis provides little hope of a positive future. Indeed the impact of an unresolved Climate Crisis could well nullify so much of the excellent work and huge financial contribution RI has made to life on Planet Earth over the past 116 years.

To enable RI to help the world be much more relevant and effective in dealing with the Climate Crisis,   we propose that RI’s COP 26 Delegation, and all future RI Environmental strategies, should include the following immediate and longer term goals: 

Immediate goals for the RI COP 26 Delegation


1.Partnership approach

In the build-up to the November COP 26 Conference, the RI COP 26 Delegation should seek to establish and, where appropriate, strengthen RI’s relationships with specific international organizations who are also committed to dealing with Climate Change, especially in light of the scientific evidence provided by the recent 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and to closing the 1,5°C gap. Failure to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement / Rulebook would ultimately undermine the achievement of just and sustainable global development that hopes to leave no one person behind.  In such light, the RI delegation should plan to motivate these and possibly other organisations to work together with RI to find synergistic cohesive approaches for COP 26 and beyond.

To gain immediate traction in the next two months prior to COP 26, we propose that the RI Delegation should seek to establish links with the five organisations listed below. These organisations all have world-wide representation of diverse target groups, namely, economists, significant well-respected previous world leaders, legal, scientific and development experts,  and importantly the youth. The goal would be to try to consolidate a common view and purpose with all five organizations together with Rotary to enable all to talk with a united cohesive voice at COP 26.

1_1  Commonwealth of Nations:

The fact that two of the four Rotary COP 26 Delegation, Judith Diment and Doug Wills, have formal links through RI to the Commonwealth of Nations, suggests that the place to start the proposed relationship-building is here, where the relationship already exists. In addition, D9350 Rotarian Prof Oliver Ruppel, an well -experienced COP delegate, also has an excellent working relationship with the Commonwealth Secretariat who deal with Climate Crisis issues.


1.World Economic Forum (WEF):  In the past five years the WEF has effectively changed its priorities  and elevated its entire Climate Crisis approach to be its top priority, promoting the common good, human dignity and stewardship of the planet.  Acknowledging the long neglected value of nature, WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab proposes “a total reset” due to Climate Change.  RI needs to learn from WEF how they pressed the reset button within their WEF organization. WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab can be introduced to the RI COP 26 Delegation by Stellenbosch University, respectively by its Vice Chancellor, Professor Wim De Villiers, its Vice Rector, Professor Eugene Cloete and Rotarian Professor Oliver Ruppel of the Faculty of Law’s Development and Rule of Law Programme (DROP) and/ or possibly through IPRIP Holgar Knaack who can be introduced to the COP delegation by D9350 IPDG Carl-Heinz Duisberg who knows IPRIP Holgar Knaack very well.


2. The Elders: This group of internationally well-respected previous senior world leaders is currently chaired by Mary Robinson, who is a past UN Special Envoy for Climate Change. The Elders organisation was set up by Nelson Mandela to work specifically on solutions for problems such as Climate Change.  It was thought that either Doug or Judith may well know Mary Robinson, as they are based in the UK but, if not, the D9350 team would attempt to make the links as we met with Mary Robinson in late 2019 on the issue of Climate Crisis.


3. Stop Ecocide International: This organisation seeks to protect our ecosystems – the fundamental elements of life on Planet Earth – by establishing ecocide as an international crime in terms of the Rome Statute.  “Ecocide” has been defined by an independent expert panel as meaning “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts”.  Besides support from the United Nations Secretary-General, this vital organisation also works with “diplomats, politicians, lawyers, corporate leaders, NGOs, indigenous and faith groups … , influencers, academic experts, grassroots campaigns and individuals”. (See Addendum 3)  Its campaign has gained traction in recent times – with decisions by several countries to include it in their legislative programmes as well as a decision in May 2021 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, representing 179 parliaments around the world, to adopt a resolution calling on all Member Parliaments to support making ecocide a criminal offence. Even if it takes a few years for the amendment of the Rome Statute to take effect, the fact that ecocide is being considered as an international crime will serve as a deterrent. 


4.Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC): This structure consists of 13 world-class universities from all continents, including MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and Stellenbosch University from Africa.  It is currently co-chaired by the French Science-Po and the Chinese Tsinghua Universities. Each of these 13 Universities already has or is currently establishing its own School of Climate Studies to advance climate change solutions through research, education, and public outreach, and to partner with industry, non-profit and government organisations to promote rapid implementation from local to global scales. As it is the youth for whom RI must encourage hope that the world will effectively deal with the Climate Crisis challenge, the GAUC could, in time, link to the over 25 000 universities and  250 million university students world-wide. Professor Oliver Ruppel will be able to facilitate an introduction of the RI Cop 26 delegation to the current Co-chairs of GAUC. (See addendum one for Prof Oliver’s August 2021 article on the climate crisis)  

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