Reproduced below is Max Hipkin’s speech at our Changeover Night on 26th June 2021 on being inducted as our 2021/22 Club President.
Thank you Past President Di. It is my pleasure to pay tribute to you and your Board’s significant achievements over the past year. I would now like to turn to the coming year.
Rotary traditionally has had six focus areas:
- Peace and conflict prevention/resolution.
- Disease prevention and treatment.
- Water and sanitation.
- Maternal and child health.
- Basic education and literacy.
- Economic and community development
This month, on the 4th June, a seventh focus area was added – The Environment.
Rotary has been slower than the community in focusing on this area. In recent years there has been a groundswell of interest in the environment, since the RI Presidency of Barry Rassin in 2018/19. Barry was from the Bahamas, low-lying islands, where there is acute concern about rising sea levels. He was aware that Rotary was apolitical and there was the potential for conflict over climate change. However he knew the topic was important to younger people and if we are to attract a younger demographic, we have to engage with the environment. It is, after all, interrelated to many existing projects – climate change is now affecting water-supply and the spread of tropical diseases and projects such as bee-keeping that Rotary is involved with.
Since 1990, the world has warmed an average of 1.2?. In Australia the temperature increase has been higher, 1.44? to the end of last year. People being born today will probably be alive by the end of the century, when they will be facing a 3? increase unless drastic moves are taken now. Actions are needed at the sub-national level, to complement those of business, local government and non-government organisations. Other countries are doing more – in fact countries doing the least to contribute to the problem are doing the most – Vanuatu is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030; Vietnam has already phased out single use plastics while we will not achieve that here until the end of next year.
It has been said that we are rapidly approaching the time when the amount of plastic in our oceans will overtake the biomass of fish. More plastics than fish!
I don’t know how true that is and it’s our responsibility to present the science honestly, without being alarmist, focusing on the solutions. We need to link the environment with our other areas of focus – disease prevention, education and social justice.
Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand are already embarking on environmental projects:
- Club of Auckland in NZ, with the aim of reducing the average generation of 8 tonnes of CO2 per person pa, to achieve zero carbon emissions, has developed a consumption/audit model, illustrating our carbon footprint and ways to reduce consumption and food miles;
- Club of Tamar Sunrise in Launceston has planted 500 trees of an endangered species to replace habitat loss and has also been involved in wetland restoration;
- Club of Berry in NSW is diverting waste from landfill, recycling educational and hospital equipment to send overseas. They are doing more than providing BBQs in local parks – they are installing nesting boxes for local cockatoos to encourage birdlife.
- Club of Castlemaine in Victoria, after catastrophic bushfires, is concerned about invasion of weed species and is involved in replanting of fire ravaged areas.
The addition of an environmental focus area was unanimously supported by the RI leadership. It was seen to provide many benefits, particularly to engage with and attract younger members and to enhance the Rotary Brand. “Service above Self” can also mean “Service for the Environment”. The solutions are in our hands as we work together with partners to repair the environment. Rotary produces leaders that have promoted positive social change. The environmental focus offers the opportunity to build on current efforts and to be environmental champions. It promises to be an exciting time for the Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay.
The team to join with me this coming year, continuing both our traditional projects and embarking on new environmental initiatives, is:
Secretary & Vice Pres PP Di Collins
Treasurer PRID Ken Collins
Voc/Community PP Jeremy Foster
International Greg Acciaioli
Youth PP Peter Mack
PR & Fundraising PP Simone Collins
Membership PRID Ken Collins
President Max Hipkins
Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay