Friends, one of my mantras in Rotary has been do more, grow more. I am sure you are adopting this mantra. Do more, as in bigger and impactful service projects, and grow more, as in increasing our membership.
There is so much excitement across the Rotary world about our Each One, Bring One effort. Everywhere I travel, club presidents, district governors, and Rotary members — both veteran and new — express appreciation that their membership efforts are inspiring the Rotary world.
We are growing more, and I cannot wait to celebrate all of this success with you at the Rotary International Convention in Houston in June. There is still time to register and make your plans to join us. We are looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will unite our members after far too much time apart.
As we grow more, we will have so much more opportunity to do more. April is Maternal and Child Health Month, a great opportunity for your clubs to consider what you are doing to support the health of mothers and young children. Improving access to care and the quality of care for women and children worldwide is an important focus for us and it also ties in very well with our Empowering Girls initiative. I appreciate the work being done by various clubs in this area of focus, and I would encourage you to think of ways to do more.
It has been so exciting to see Rotary members come together at the presidential conferences to share ideas about using our areas of focus to bring about big, lasting change in the world. The past and upcoming presidential conferences are looking at our new area of focus — the environment — and how our work to protect our planet must support our efforts to grow local economies, especially in places with the greatest poverty. I also had the honor to speak at the 26th United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, known as COP26. This important meeting brought together nearly 100 heads of state and government over a two-week period to set new targets for fossil fuel emission. My call to action was to restore mangroves, a crucial ecosystem that can mitigate the effects of climate change in coastal areas. Already, countries across the world are showing great enthusiasm for this plan.
Our survival is at stake — the damage of environmental catastrophe is already upon us — and so, too, is our ability to lift the world’s most needy out of poverty and offer them hope. We must find ways to protect our planet while sustaining the economic growth necessary to achieve our highest humanitarian goals.
This is a very exciting time in Rotary, a time when the world needs us most. As we Serve to Change Lives, remember that we are also changing ourselves. We are becoming the world’s great change-makers and peacebuilders.
The world is ready for us. It’s time to rise to that call.