by Alfredo Valero, Assistant Governor, D 2202

Rotary Green Revolution (RGR) is a global organization that brings together Rotarians from around the world to support Rotary clubs and districts in the fight to mitigate the effects of the climate emergency and accelerate the shift to a decarbonized energy model.

Mission and vision

The project was born in Spain in July 2022 as a spin-off of Rotary Forests to provide technical assistance and other resources to a wider range of environmental projects undertaken by clubs and districts. It was designed with a completely cross-cutting approach, covering a broad spectrum of environmental protection projects and reinforcing all seven Rotary Areas of Focus. The mission was to bring about a revolution within District 2202 (as a pilot district) to help implement and galvanize environmental projects at a local level but with a global perspective. 

During her year as Governor of District 2202, Ingrid Steinhoff was key to implementing Rotary Green Revolution’s strategy in her district, making D 2202 a pioneer through calculating its carbon footprint, designing actions to reduce the footprint, and offsetting the rest with reforestation projects in order to achieve NetZero.

Rotary Green Revolution is promoting the development of vertically-integrated programs and campaigns that link projects to achieve synergy. Our goal is to choose projects that are replicable and scalable at an international level.

 The idea of “Green Revolution” arises from the need to: 

  • Help Rotarians and clubs to take action on impactful environmental protection campaigns that encourage Rotarians to be protagonists in the green revolution.
  • To inspire Rotarians as well as individuals and organizations outside of Rotary to join our causes. 
  • To make people understand that environmental protection reinforces the other humanitarian work of Rotary International. For example, some environmental projects help to develop local economies. Others can prevent disease by increasing access to clean water or reducing air pollution.

Realizing that reducing the effects of climate change and environmental degradation can help to promote peace, The Rotary Foundation will hold a conference on “Earth and Peace” in Avila (Spain) on April 27.  Rotary Green Revolution and Rotary Forests have actively collaborated in the planning. The conference will feature several top-level speakers to explore how environmental protection can prevent conflicts.  You can register at this link.

Rotary Green Revolution was formed on the basis of three key strategic axes:

  • Creation of Campaigns and action programs that represent a revolution through collaboration, synergy, and impact.  
  • Acting as the organization that verifies clubs and districts’ carbon footprint calculation through the NetZero Coalition seal. 
  • Creation of a Voluntary Carbon Credit Bank/Fund to verify carbon footprint offsetting and to map carbon credit absorption projects. 
Graphic for Terra y Paz.

Terra y Paz flyer.

Creation of campaigns and action programs: We are creating a platform that identifies all the projects and initiatives linked to the mitigation of the effects of climate change within Rotary International. This starts with reinforcing the actions and knowledge that are already being promoted by Rotary International clubs and districts, ESRAG projects such as Become Sustainable, and other initiatives such as Rotary Forests and End Plastic Soup.  

The main objective of this strategic axis is to intervene as a “strategic driver” of the “green revolution” by creating specific campaigns and programs that integrate several Rotary projects through alliances with other environmental organizations, to inspire Rotarians and clubs to take action. We’re looking for local projects, adapted to the idiosyncrasies of each region, but developed with a global perspective, whose strategies can be scaled up and replicated internationally. 

Rotary Green Revolution is currently developing several specific initiatives:

  • NetZero Coalition (which forms part of our second strategic axis).
  • Global campaign for river recovery, so that Spanish Rotarians can intervene and actively collaborate in the recovery of some Spanish rivers in accordance with the Spanish Government’s National Strategy for River Restoration 2022-2030 (ENRR).
  • We are also interested in identifying organizations and technologies that can support Rotary initiatives in their projects.

Within the Spanish National Strategy for River Restoration, there is a specific program for river corridors affected by major forest fires, in accordance with Royal Decree-Law 15/2022, of 1 August. This calls for urgent measures on forest fires to mitigate the terrible impacts that these catastrophic episodes have on river systems, including the destruction of riverside vegetation, the increased sediment load reaching the river due to the dragging of materials from the slopes affected by the fire, and the decrease in water quality.

This global campaign of Rotary Green Revolution will begin with the launch in April 2024 of an initiative for the Rio Ebro, Spain’s largest river, which will be replicated in other rivers and countries. End Plastic Soup and Rotary Forests will be the main Rotary organizations leading this initiative, but others will have the opportunity to join. Restoring water quality is a top priority, given that each year the Rio Ebro discharges more than 2.2 billion microplastics into the Mediterranean Sea, reaching record levels of microplastic pollution that pose a threat to marine species and human health. Plastic currently accounts for 95% of the waste floating in the Mediterranean and ending up on its beaches.  

Girl walking in a forest

Rotary Forests.

Acting as the organization that verifies Rotary Club and District carbon footprint calculations through the NetZero Coalition Seal: Under this strategic axis, our mission is to help Rotary International, through its districts and clubs and Rotary action groups, to use existing calculation tools to calculate their carbon footprint. Consistent with this goal, ESRAG’s “Become Sustainable” initiative was widely promoted in District 2202 during its progress towards achieving NetZero status.

Rotary Green Revolution had the invaluable help of engineering companies to base the calculation of the carbon footprint and indicators (CO2 emission factors) on the regulations, models and data provided by the Ministry of Ecological Transition of the Spanish Government (GHG protocol and ISO 14064 standard) including Scope 3 emissions corresponding to emissions from transporting Rotarians to district events.

Rotary Green Revolution’s aim is not to calculate organizations’ carbon footprint ourselves. Instead, we want to develop simple tools for clubs and districts, adapted to international calculation standards. We will help clubs and districts join RGR programs to have their carbon calculations verified (not certified).

Creation of a Voluntary Carbon Credit Bank/Fund to verify carbon footprint offsetting and map carbon credit absorption projects: CO2 absorption projects developed by some of the Rotary initiatives will be able to join this fund so that both Rotary International clubs/districts can offset their carbon footprint. Our aim is to map existing projects and promote them. For those projects of a certain size, we will have potential to help them to obtain funding. The quality of the projects would be rated in order to establish procedures for sponsoring companies and international certifying entities that guarantee the “certified” carbon credits and rating agencies. This opens the possibility of marketing them through the VCM (Voluntary Carbon Market) and international carbon credits. One carbon credit corresponds to the absorption of one tonne of CO2.

Pilot District: District 2202

As a Pilot District, District 2202 was awarded the Rotary Green Revolution’s NetZero Coalition seal as a carbon neutral district for 2022, but it was only calculated from the beginning of Ingrid Steinhoff’s governorship: from 1 July 2022 through the end of that year.

Ingrid Steinhoff’s term as governor ended on 30 June 2023, but the current District Governor Raül Font -Quer had already made the commitment to continue NetZero operation. In this way District 2202 has won two certifications for 100% carbon footprint neutrality in 2023: one through Naturklima, a public foundation for climate change mitigation in Spain, as well as the NetZero Coalition certificate from RGR.

On March 15, 2023, the certificates were formally presented during the Assembly of District 2202 in Irun, by Mr. José Ignacio Asensio, Regional Deputy for Sustainability and president of Naturklima, to the governors of District 2202 PDG Ingrid Steinhoff, DG Raül Font Quer and DGE Montserrat Moral.  The enthusiastic support of all three District Governors for the District’s maintaining carbon neutrality is a powerful statement of continuity.

Statistics of the impact of Rotary Forests.

Rotary Forest impact.

The total offset (Carbon Neutral) was carried out with the Rotary Green Revolution Voluntary Carbon Credit Fund, through a project designed and verified by Rotary Forests for the reforestation of 1,600 trees in Tauste in Zaragoza, a region with a semi-desert climate that suffers from chronic droughts. The reforestation was carried out on land that suffered a terrible fire that devoured 500 hectares in 2009. This Rotary Forest in Tauste was added to a 40 hectare reforestation project of the Ibercaja Bank Foundation.

It should be noted that both the calculation and compensation of the carbon footprint did not entail any financial cost to the District. Traceable carbon credits were generously awarded through the 200 tonnes of CO2 absorbed from the Tauste Rotary Forest, the cost of which was funded entirely by the generosity of Rotarians from Rotary Forests.  Then- Governor Ingrid Steinhoff was the major donor.

Planting for future generations:  Rotary Green Forests and Rotary Green Revolution are vital manifestations of Rotarians’ commitment to their communities. Our programs do not have “owners” but “coordinators” as custodians of the legacy to ensure the continuity of the organizations/programs regardless of the people.

It is like the End Polio Now program, or Rotary International itself, which is “born” thanks to the visionary nature of one or more people, but then transcends that legacy over time. And this is uniquely true of Rotary Forests: when a project is launched – such as reforestation of a burned area or greening of semi-desert areas – the leaders of those projects will probably not be alive to see the results. We have to wait at least 20 years to really see the forest “alive” and the whole ecosystem created. This gives us a humbling perspective given that many of us will never see its full glory.  But here is another double perspective of Rotary humility: many of our projects will not be viewed for the satisfaction of our own “ego”, but for future generations to be proud of our Rotary legacy. And that is why these Rotary organizations and programs have a strong sacred character. For this reason we are looking forward to scaling them up to the international level. 

Four people standing in front of a presentation

From left to right: Raül Font-Quer, Governor of District 2202, Jose Ignacio Asensio, Regional Councillor for Sustainability of the Government of Gipuzkoa and President of Naturklima – Foundation for Climate Change, DGE Montserrat Moral PDG Ingrid Steinhoff.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank ESRAG for their invaluable collaboration in the dissemination of this great project, in the hope that they can also participate in this “Green Revolution” and help share it with all the worldwide members of Rotary International. Thank you, Rotary!

For more information, please contact PDG Ingrid Steinhoff at

Alfredo Valero is a founding member of Rotary Forests and Rotary Green Revolution, and Coordinator for the Board of Trustees. Photos courtesy of Rotary Forests.