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February 2021 Volume 5 Issue 8

Solar refrigeration to safely store vaccines,

system-wide solutions to food waste, and more!

This month brings you a wealth of webinars, including a solution to storing COVID vaccines safely in regions without a reliable grid. Here's the schedule:
• Feb. 10: #BringBackBirds
• Feb. 12: Solar-powered refrigeration for vaccines
• Feb. 15/16 Climate and Peace Forum: 
   evolving climate policy in USA and Australia
• Feb. 18: ReFED's strategies to slash food waste
• Feb. 24: Rewilding forests in India
• Mar. 20-21:  Rotaractors of Latin America
    host global environmental project conference!
    Aparta la fecha/Save the date!

Also in this issue:
• Meet ESRAG's 1000th member!
• Enter Holger Knaack's #I Fix the Planet contest!

Photo: the solar array for a solar direct drive refrigeration system in Senegal.  Source: PATH

 Solar direct drive refrigeration

reliable for COVID vaccines

Feb. 12, 10 am CT (UTC 2 pm)

by Ariel Miller, ESRAG Reporter

Through End Polio Now, Rotarians have worked passionately to ensure that children in the most remote corners of the world get vaccinated.  Now, to help Rotarians respond to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Steve McCarney of Sunny Day LLC and Johnny Weiss of Solar Energy International (SEI) will describe the use of solar direct drive (SDD) refrigeration to store vaccines at safe temperatures in communities without reliable electric power. These systems can now generate some additional electricity for other basic needs.  McCarney and Weiss have kindly agreed to offer this free briefing to Rotarians worldwide in a webinar organized by ESRAG’s Renewable Energy Task Force.  Register here for the webinar.


As a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), McCarney developed specs. for battery-free solar-powered refrigeration kits, with built-in cold storage for backup to ensure they can maintain proper temperature through the night and for several days if the sun is not shining. A hundred models of fridges and freezers meet the specs and have been pre-certified for purchase by UNICEF.  These systems maintain temperatures of +2 to +8 degrees Celsius, consistent with safe storage of the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine.  Here's a list of the WHO prequalified appliances .

The battery-free technology came out of NASA research in the 1990s. It liberates local communities from the logistics and costs of replacing batteries or relying on fossil-fuel powered generators.  McCarney and Weiss will also describe the opportunities for clinics to tap excess electricity generated by these same solar fridge kits to power other equipment health centers need, such as lighting, communications, and even select small medical devices like the fetal Dopplers and otoscopes.  The systems are rigorously designed to ensure that the refrigerator or freezer always has the power it needs to maintain proper temperatures for storing vaccines and medications.  Rotarians who are supporting health centers will find Abdoulaye Gueye's article for PATH exciting.


Vaccine storage in areas without reliable power is an essential part of cold-chain logistics for vaccination campaigns. ESRAG is proud to offer this free webinar as a resource for Rotarians who are yearning to make the worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations safe and fair to all concerned.

Photo: Steve McCarney leveling a solar array for an SDD system in Colombia

ReFED's Dana Gunders 

speaks Feb. 18, 1 pm CT (UTC-5)

on large-scale solutions

to food waste

By Amelie Catheline, Chair, ESRAG Drawdown Food Waste Task Force

In 2019, 35% of the food produced in the USA went to waste. That uneaten food – worth $308 billion - accounted for 4% of  US carbon emissions. Cost-effective, systemic solutions are ready to deploy.  Dana Gunders, ReFED Executive Director (pictured here), will describe the logistics and economics of work now underway in the USA to reach the national goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.  As her predecessor Chris Cochran says, this is “a tremendous economic, environmental, and social opportunity.” ESRAG’s Drawdown Food Waste Task Force is offering this Zoom webinar on practical solutions, to inform and inspire Rotarians and anyone committed to food security and a liveable planet worldwide.  Please register here.

Before becoming a founding board member of ReFED, Dana Gunders served as a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, then launched Next Course LLC to provide strategic advice on preventing food waste. She is the author of NRDC's landmark Wasted study, launched the Ad Council’s Save the Food campaign, and is a leading public voice for solutions, including testifying to the U.S. Congress. ReFED is an entreprenueurial nonprofit powered by leaders in the food industry, capital investment, foodbanks, foundations, and the public sector, including the Rockefeller Foundation, General Mills, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The U.S. food industry is estimated to account for 80% of water use, 51% of land use, 10-15% of energy use, 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and 21 million jobs. ReFED works to prevent waste across the food system by leveraging data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow. Try out ReFED’s Insights Engine, an online tool for learning about the problem, exploring solutions, connecting with solution providers, and calculating impact. 


Experiences in Rewilding

Biodiversity seminar Feb. 24

9 am ET, 2 pm UTC, 

7:30 pm IST

by Dr. Christopher Puttock, ESRAG Chair

Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park is a Protected Area and a major tiger and elephant reserve located in the Western Ghats in South India. Along with neighbouring national parks of Nagarhole in Karnataka, Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, it is part of one of the largest contiguous forests in India. This area has been designated as a global biodiversity hotspot by the IUCN. 

For the Feb. 24 ESRAG Biodiversity seminar, CR Hanumanth will discuss landscape restoration methodologies focused on Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) of native vegetation and improving soil hydrology with the active involvement of local and indigenous communities.  If you haven't attended previous Biodiversity meetings, please email to get the Zoom link. 

Buffer forests abutting the national park provide valuable migratory paths and supplementary habitats for fauna. These buffer forests are highly degraded due to anthropogenic pressures and the lack of restoration efforts, impairing their carrying capacity for wildlife and ecosystem resilience. 

Hanumanth is a Project Governance Committee member of JungleScapes Charitable Trust, a grassroots ecological restoration non-profit organization recognised for its work by the Society for Ecological Restoration with the Full Circle Award in 2017. Hanumanth is part of a citizen’s group working to preserve Mysore’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. He also teaches underprivileged children in Mysore. A Rotarian for 23 years, Hanumanth is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Mysore West, District 3181, Karnataka, India. He has served as District Treasurer and for 2021-2022 he has been selected as District Editor. 

Over the past 13 years, JungleScapes (JS)  has restored 1000 hectares (c. 2500acres) of degraded forests. This work is supported by active funding from corporate donors. Primary objectives of JungleScapes are to:

• Bring back the native biodiversity in the degraded forests in a manner that minimizes man-animal conflicts.

• Involve local communities and to help revive their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) thereby building capacity within the tribes so that forests are valued as something to be protected.

• Act as a watchdog against Invasive Alien Species in native habitats, and

• Help build sustainable communities that minimise their carbon footprint.

ESRAG's 1000th member discovered Rotary in Africa!

by Ariel Miller, ESRAG Reporter

We’re delighted to welcome environmental lawyer Frances McChesney as ESRAG’s 1000th member, and to share a glimpse of her career and why she joined.  Frances has been working on solutions to pollution for 40 years. She’s a graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, which pioneered the study of environmental law in the USA.  

She started her career with the U.S. President’s Council on Environmental Quality in the White House, then worked with the US Environmental Protection Agency on clean-up of hazardous waste sites. In 1988 she joined the legal office of California’s Water Quality Control Board and was delighted to participate in enforcement of the state’s rigorous pollution prevention standards, which have led to a dramatic improvement in water quality of California’s rivers.   

A little over a year ago, Frances went on a trip to Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to see wildlife with her sister Barbara, a retired teacher, and they were deeply impressed to see a hospital and a school for orphans in Bwindi, Uganda, funded by Rotarians. They were looking for a way to work on humanitarian causes after retiring, and were inspired to see this Rotary impact.  The picture shows the sisters with Bushman guide Dicks, owner of the Bushman Plains Camp in Bostwana, and his father, who is chief of their village. Frances is on the right and Barbara, on the left.

When they got home, Frances joined the Davis Sunrise Club, and Barbara, Windsor Sunrise, both in northern California (USA).   Frances has hosted several international students who were doing internships in wildlife protection at the University of California at Davis. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the company 4Ocean, which is working to remove trash from our oceans and fabricate it  into jewelry and artwork. Rotary is a great fit for her experience, both through its international peer-to-peer network and the new environmental area of focus that recognizes that environmental sustainability is essential to economic development and resilience.   

Both sisters attended a webinar last year given by Peter Fiekowsky of the Foundation for Climate Restoration  for the San Francisco Rotary Climate Action Team (RCAT).  They were inspired to start RCATs in their clubs, and Frances is eager to join efforts to capture carbon and prevent carbon emissions.   They recently learned about ESRAG. Barbara is member number 999, and Frances joined the day after!  Welcome, Frances (and Barbara too!)


Don't miss the Climate and Peace Forum, Bring Back Birds, and Holger Knaack's #I Fix the Planet Contest

Climate and Peace Forum: climate policy in US and Australia
Get the scoop Feb. 15/16 on evolving US climate policy and its impacts on Australia in three incisive 15 minute talks by globally-renowned speakers in the latest free Climate and Peace Forum:
Climatologist Michael Mann, a co-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize, will describe the big changes happening in US climate policy.
• Law professor Maxine Burkett will outline principles of climate equity and justice.
Journalist Marian Wilkinson will discuss America's influence on Australian climate policies.

The Forum will be live the evening of Feb. 15 in continental US time zones and the morning of Feb. 16 in Australia.  Sign up here.  If you can't join the webinar, catch the recording on the website soon after.   Climate and Peace Forum is a global resource provided by the Australian Rotary Clubs of Sydney Cove, Sydney, Darling Harbour, and Corrimal.  It draws hundreds of viewers from several continents. Many attendees are not yet Rotarians. Register your Club on the website so they can find you!  

#Bring Back Birds 
Biodiversity Webinar Feb. 10
3 pm UTC, 10 am ET by Zoom

Reminder:  Katie O'Brien of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the speaker at ESRAG's Feb. 10 Biodiversity meeting on actions ordinary Rotarians can take to restore a bird-friendly planet. Help reverse the disastrous decline in bird populations!  

Read more on ESRAG's Biodiverisity page, and sign up for the Biodiversity webinars by email.

Final weeks for #I Fix the Planet!

By Gunnar Åkerblom, Co-Chair, 
ESRAG Europe
An ESRAG member is - by definition - somebody who cares about the environment. ESRAG has globally reached the impressive number of 1,000 members. Each one of you has a story to tell: how you want to #FixThePlanet. Don't miss this chance to share it in the global #I Fix the Planet video contest launched by RI President Holger Knaack. 

This is an unprecedented opportunity to make the great news of Rotary’s environmental mission go viral. Each and every ESRAG member should  just do it: tell or show your story! The #I Fix the Planet site explains how to make and enter a 70-second video.  All you have to do is get someone to record you on a smart phone talking about what you're doing to save the planet. Post your video on your social media, and upload the link to the contest website to be seen and enjoyed!

If every second ESRAG member grabs this opportunity, we will have a collection of 500 videos, a wonderful tool to inspire all Rotarians to “protect the environment.” The website explains how easy it is to upload your video to social media and enter your story in the contest.

The contest ends March 31, but don’t wait. The sooner you upload your video, the greater the impact you’ll have. Over 1,000 people have already registered to vote for videos submitted to the contest.  After March 31, a Rotary jury will select 7 winners from the top vote getters, and these seven will enjoy a Zoom conference with RI President Holger. But the big winner will be our planet!

Los Clubes Rotaract de ESRAG LATAM (Capítulo de América Latina) invitan al mundo Rotario a una conferencia virtual de dos días del 20 al 21 de marzo para mostrar un tesoro de proyectos ambientales que los rotarios están implementando en América Latina y el mundo. La diversidad de proyectos ilustrará las categorías de proyectos que aparecen en el UNEP-Rotary Manual para Clubes Rotarios, que puede descargar en inglés o español.

Las sesiones de trabajo, las exhibiciones virtuales y los videos mostrarán los beneficios logrados por los proyectos y cómo replicarlos. La conferencia también brindará oportunidades para establecer contactos con socios y financiadores potenciales. Mantenga la fecha en su calendario. El boletín de marzo de ESRAG incluirá todos los detalles y cómo registrarse.

The Rotaract Clubs of ESRAG LATAM (Latin America Chapter) invite the Rotary world to a two-day virtual conference March 20-21 showcasing a treasure trove of environmental projects being implemented by Rotarians in Latin America and worldwide.  The diversity of projects will illustrate the project categories featured in the UNEP-Rotary Handbook, which you can download in English or Spanish.

Breakout sessions, virtual exhibits, and videos will showcase the benefits achieved by projects and how to replicate them.  The conference will also provide opportunities for networking with potential partners and funders.  Hold the date in your calendar. The March ESRAG newsletter will include full details and how to register.


The Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, or controlled by, Rotary International.

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