By Dr. Yasar Atacik, ESRAG Chair

Dear ESRAG Members,

Dr. Yasar Atacik

As we begin the new year, I would like to share my vision for the coming year with you. As we all know, the climate crisis is a massive threat to nature and future generations. We believe that this threat to humanity needs to be addressed seriously by Rotarians, just as Rotarians supported the creation of the United Nations after two catastrophic world wars. As the voice of the environment, it is up to us, ESRAG members, to galvanize Rotarians to act on the climate crisis.  

ESRAG has increased its reach, achieving impact at every level in Rotary, through presentations to the Rotary International Convention, Zone conferences, districts, clubs, and individuals. For the second year in a row, ESRAG members attended the global COP climate meetings as part of official Rotary delegations led by RI Presidents. A Rotary International Director (Faiz Kidwai of Pakistan) and a Trustee of the Rotary Foundation (Jorge Aufranc of Guatemala) have volunteered to serve on ESRAG’s board and are part of the outstanding team you elected this spring.  

We’re able to build on the strong foundation laid by outgoing chair Pat Armstrong. Under her leadership the board significantly strengthened ESRAG’s systems and organizational structure, and enhanced ESRAG’s role as a trusted catalyst and a strategic influencer within and beyond Rotary. I want to thank Pat for making all of this possible.

ESRAG's Roadmap for 2023-24

ESRAG Directors are systematically building ESRAG’s capacity and credibility for expanding effective environmental action throughout the Rotary family.

Before we get into the details of our action plan for the year ahead, here are some of the other developments on which new activities will be based.

Rotary’s environmental policy calls for, among other things, “addressing the causes of climate change and climate disruption and supporting solutions to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses.”  ESRAG’s role in inspiring and equipping climate action is a vital part of Rotary’s humanitarian priorities.

 Last year, in February 2022, the ESRAG Board established a Climate Roadmap Working Group to lead this work. This is a comprehensive plan for ESRAG leaders and Rotarians to contribute their knowledge and skills to help the world address the climate crisis. The working group developed an ESRAG Policy Statement on Climate Action which was adopted by the ESRAG Board.  

 In May, the group met with Barry Rassin and Ian Riseley – the incoming and outgoing Chairs of The Rotary Foundation – and other senior Rotary leaders to discuss the Climate Roadmap. We also discussed the possibility of establishing a Rotary Climate Task Force, similar to RI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, to provide guidance for Rotary climate-related activities. I am pleased to say that both Barry Rassin and Ian Riseley strongly supported this. These discussions continued at the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne.


We realize that despite our newsletters, website, presentations, and social media activities, we only reach a small percentage of clubs, so one of our action items is to GROW OUR REACH:

  1. Measure and expand ESRAG outreach to more Rotarians
  2. Promote and advocate for Every Club Climate Friendly program to 1,000 clubs worldwide
  3. Increase ESRAG’s role at Zone Institutes and District Conferences
  4. Develop programs to engage Rotaractors and Interactors
  5. Reach wider audiences through articles and advertisements in Rotary’s regional magazines

Working on the Climate Roadmap and subsequent discussions led us to the realization that we need to INCREASE OUR IMPACT, our second action item:

  1. Build stronger relationships with senior Rotary leaders to support RI’s leadership on climate and the environment
  2. Work with RI to establish a Rotary Climate Change Task Force
  3. Advocate for an address on the environment to the District Governors- Elect at the International Assembly.

Our third action item is to EXPAND COVERAGE, creating resources to equip Rotarians for effective environmental action, including on needs that have not previously been widely addressed.  We also want to equip Rotarians to Walk the Talk by making sure activities and policies are environmentally informed and consistent with the Rotary Four-Way Test:

  1. Expand into education, behavior change, and sustainable agriculture
  2. Support environmentally responsible use of funds; club and district funds, regional funds, and The Rotary Foundation funds.
  3. With respect to fund management, the ESRAG Board has transferred the majority of its funds to a green bank that primarily finances solar projects.

As the challenges facing ESRAG continue to grow, it is imperative that we change the way we operate. This action item is to ADAPT:

  1. Find donors and increase fundraising significantly
  2. Improve committee structure, operations and board effectiveness.
  3. Increase collaboration among regional chapters and project groups, including task forces
  4. Foster connections between regional chapters and district environmental chairs to develop more projects.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” We will do the right things to meet the expectations of our members. I would like to thank Pat and all members of committees, working groups, task forces and volunteers who have worked hard in 2022-23, and will continue next year to make ESRAG a trusted catalyst and strategic influencer in the area of environmental sustainability.