World Environment Day 2015 in Pune

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in India, News, News & Updates, Take Action

Our World Environment Day celebration was the highlight of June. As we consider the environment to be a matter of vital importance, Nektarina Non Profit were excited to celebrate WED in India with its local partner, Zest Youth Movement. Not simply a celebration, the event aimed to contribute to raising awareness of environmental protection among the population, with a particular focus on youth.

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Over 300 people took part in our rally through Pune City. Among them, students from different institutions and universities, colleges, school children, representatives of civil society organizations, companies and political parties, Pune Doctors association, Chartered accountant association, private coaching classes, and many other. Girls and women have been notably present, as well as disabled and elderly people, which is comforting as we strive towards inclusive and sustainable progress.

The rally was launched by Mrs Bharati Kadam, Municipality Member, and a special guests delegation, among them famous environmentalist and social activist Naur Mohammad Patel and Mr Prakash Kadam, president of the Pragati Foundation.

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Mrs Bharati Kadam introduced the event by addressing the public with a speech. She mentioned Pune’s different environmental problems and how they are affecting the health of people around city. She said waste management, transport systems, and cleanliness should be take in account and we should strive to find permanent solutions for these challenges. She pledged to raise her voice on these issues as a municipality member.

Before the parade set off, student Sneha read a message from Miss Sandra Antonovic, Nektarina Non Profit Co-founder and CEO. In her message, Miss Antonovic said “I am touched, honoured and humbled that so many of you have gathered here today to celebrate the World Environment Day and to show that people do have the power to change things if they come together and act together. As a community, as a nation, as global citizens.

“You are showing us how to be global citizens, how to come together, how to act together; and we are humbled by your example. We are also inspired, and we follow you on your path of sustainable living. Now, more than ever, sustainability is important for all of us.”

The participants then walked in procession through the roads of Pune, showing banners and calling out environmental awareness slogans and reached the polluted riverbank.

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We undertook the riverbank clean-up to support Prime Minister Naredra Modi’s Initiative Swatch Bharat. The cleanup was launched by Shri Dattatray Dhankwade, Mayor of Pune. He gave a speech congratulating attendees for taking part in such initiatives and encouraged people to engage in such programmes often. He also said that more focus should be given to such issues within education because educated people can be more proactive, leading to cleaner and healthier lifestyles for everyone.

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Equipment was distributed and together the participants removed a huge quantity of litter from the riverbank. At the end of the cleanup, everyone took an oath for a clean and non-polluted river.

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Throughout the event, we invited people to write their messages on a 20 ft banner, and there was face painting available, with many people opting for environmental slogans on their face and hands.

We are extremely proud of this celebratory event and thanks to everyone who attended and engaged, we successfully cleaned up a strip of riverbank and raised awareness of this vital cause. The high level of participation drew the interest of the press and we hope to have an even larger event next year!

Bristol – European Green Capital 2015

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates

Every year since 2010, a panel of environmental experts has chosen one exceptional city in Europe to be granted the title of ‘European Green Capital of the Year’. This year, 2015, the European Green Capital is Nektarina’s home city of Bristol. The award was envisaged to be a way to reward and recognise cities which are making continual, conscious efforts to improve their environment, become more sustainable, and innovate in green ways.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge (photo credit Gary Newman Low)

The successful bid was led by the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson. Before getting into politics, Ferguson was an architect, and served two years (2003-2005) as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, where “he was noted for championing the causes of education, the environment and good urbanism”. In 2012, Ferguson became Bristol’s first elected mayor, but his personal efforts have long had Bristol at their heart. Ferguson’s 1994 purchase and renovation of part of the Imperial Tobacco Factory is not only an laudable example of urban renewal and regeneration, but is also credited with kick-starting the regeneration of the Bedminster region as a whole. He’s known fondly by locals for his love of red trousers.

Although it took three attempts, Bristol has proven itself this year as a Green capital. This means that is has been formally recognised as a city:

  • with demonstrable records of achieving high environmental standards
  • which is committed to ongoing environmental improvement and sustainable development
  • which can act as a role model for other cities, and can inspire them to adopt best practices

As we are based in Bristol, we thought we’d give a brief overview of what makes it a Green Capital.

Bristol is the UK’s city with the lowest per capita emissions of CO2. In 2010, Bristol’s per capita emissions were just 4.7t, compared to 5.6t on average in other major cities, and 6.6t average nationally. This low amount represents a reduction between 2005 and 2010 of 19%.

Bristol has also affected a huge shift in waste management, moving from over 85% of waste being landfilled in 2004-2005 to just 25% of waste being landfilled in 2012-2013. This represents a performance which is now 23% better than the national average, with Bristol producing 378kg household waste per capita, compared to 449kg as a national average.

This is an impressive performance, putting Bristol ahead of national targets to reduce emissions despite a growing local economy, a thriving industry, and a popular university.

How has it achieved these excellent levels of reduction?

Bristol City Council has engaged in many schemes to lower emissions and energy use, including:

  • improving municipality buildings to reduce energy usage
  • modernising street lights – so far 10,500 street lamps have been updated to use energy efficient LEDs.
  • an Eco-Schools programme which improves energy performance and promotes climate change awareness in schools. Also involving 32 schools in a solar power project with an installed capacity of 568kWp.
  • a 6MW wind turbine development on council owned land, making Bristol the first UK council to own wind turbines
  • using schemes to promote awareness and alternative transport to reduce council transport emissions by 32%
  • developing 15 new Biomass boilers fed by organic waste from park/street maintenance
  • a £20m investment in improving the cycling and walking infrastructure
  • improving public transport, with 10 new bus routes and new, more efficient vehicles.
  • facilitating a network of over 250 businesses who have pledged to lower their own carbon emissions and make Bristol a low carbon city with a high quality of life.
  • a scheme which has improved the energy efficiency of over 20,000 homes with insulation and improved energy systems
  • providing bespoke and accessible advice to over 100,000 residents to help the community affect positive changes
  • requiring all new developments to have an energy plan and to incorporate on-site renewable energy generation
  • weekly recycling collection services for 14 recyclable materials
  • a network of recycling sites and household waste recycling centres
  • a massive awareness and informational campaign alongside social enterprises to inform and educate people about better waste management and how to lower waste production
  • targeted and specially designed informative communications to encourage the reduction of waste and better waste management habits, including linking recycling to Islamic teaching and practices

This is just a handful of the strategies Bristol City Council have adopted to make sure that Bristol is not only one of the greenest cities in the UK, but also in the whole of Europe, and well deserving of its title of European Green Capital of 2015.

You can find out about events and more info about Bristol’s year as European Green Capital at the website bristol2015.

CCS 2015 – Building the Desired City

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Venezuela

The country manager in Venezuela for Nektarina’s Education for Sustainability project, Vladimir, attended the first CCS Forum, entitled ‘Building the Desired City’. The forum took place in Caracas early in May and had several high calibre speakers, including Wynn Calder, the eminent director of ULSF (University Leaders for Sustainable Futures) and Sustainable Schools LLC. Wynn is the director of Sustainable Schools LLC, co-director of the Association of University Leaders for Sustainable Futures (ULSF), and the review editor of the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development.

Other speakers included Ann Cooper, a chef and advocate of healthy food for children; Larry Black, an expert in environmentally-friendly and sustainable architecture; historian and anthropologist Joseph Tainter; and Nancy Nowacek, visual artist and designer.Wynn Calder

The forum was inspired by and the ideal of a city which offers quality lives to its citizens and future generations, and aims to create a space for considering sustainability. Sustainability is innately linked to this goal, particularly ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the quality of life that current citizens have, and so Wynn Calder’s prominence in the lineup was vital to ensure the success of the forum.

Mr Calder gave a fascinating presentation wherein he discussed some of the ways schools he’s worked with have incorporated sustainability into the education of their students. Many schools had in fact gone further than just this and had made sustainability part of the school ethos – a part of the student’s lives rather than just another box they have to tick.

Prominent among them is a rural school which created a garden, which has truly become a part of the school experience for students there. Now incorporating an outdoor classroom, and a produce section much loved by the school’s chef, they have ensured that each student feels a sense of ownership over the project and gets involved with it in some way.

Other tales include schools now involved in a study on Monarch butterflies, schools taking on mass clean-up actions, schools encouraging children to take more of an interest in how their food is produced and how sustainable it is, and many more. Listening to someone talk about such a wide variety of initiatives was extremely useful for Vlad and the rest of the E4S country managers (who were able to see a video of the presentation).

As I watched the video, I started to think about the differences and similarities between the projects. More than just things like whether it was an urban or rural school, or what age group was being targeted, I considered the ideas and outcomes of the projects and came to a few conclusions.

Perhaps the most important thing about these projects are that the children were not just taking part in them – they were taking ownership of them. Collecting their own data for research studies, clearing their own playing fields, growing their own plants; these schools were not simply teaching the students about sustainability, but really getting involved with it, making them care about it and helping them realise that if they want their younger sibling, their cousin, their own children to enjoy the world as they do, they must act sustainably.

As well as empowering them to take ownership, these projects inspire the children. Whether they are inspired to picture a beautiful, flourishing garden, to imagine their name on a research paper, to consider how it would feel to meet the cows that produce the milk in their cereal – what exactly doesn’t matter so much as the act of inspiration itself.

These projects have captured the hearts and minds of many hundreds of children, and that is what the E4S project aims to do. The experience and expertise of Wynn Calder has been extremely valuable in this, and we can’t wait to put these principles of ownership and inspiration into practice across the Education for Sustainability project.

Education For Sustainability in Sierra Leone, April 2015

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

By George Mansaray, E4S Country Manager, Kiradi Initiatives, Sierra Leone

Introduction

The report under review is specific to the curricular review process and the collaborative efforts of other local organizations in ensuring its success by addressing the actual educational needs of the country.

It also focuses on the new path taken to engage the hundreds of school pupils that became pregnant during the Ebola sit at home ordeal to stay on course.

It further highlights challenges and recommendations for the smooth implementation of the said initiative.

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The curricula review process

The review process for April has been fabulous, with lots of interest being shown by national organizations and government departments for the inclusion of sustainability issues in the curricula. The city council, the environmental protection agency and other like-minded groups organized much of the activities. This was a result of several presentations jointly done with local charities arousing their interest on the environmental challenges of the country. The revelations were shocking though and this has prompted further radio debates and community forums on the environment and sustainability.

More so, many organizations are using radio jingles appealing to the government to review the curricula with emphasis on sustainability.

Furthermore, the reopening of schools on April 16 offered the opportunity to use the first two weeks to visit high schools and do presentations on the E4S concept. Fifteen high schools were targeted, two teacher training colleges and ten primary schools.

A strong network has been formed and a proposal to pull resources together to take up the nationwide education campaign for sustainability is being looked into by all participating organizations.

However, the review process has been suspended for the month of May to pay attention to the proper management of schools after missing out for nearly a year.

The education authorities, however, realized that hundreds of young pupils became pregnant during the Ebola sit-at-home campaign. As they number in their hundreds, the girls themselves did not want to miss out in school, and so then the government has proposed an accelerated literacy project for these set of girls across the country. Therefore, a special curriculum will be developed in the month of May to keep these girls in school. The review team is currently working on the task for which I am involved to hammer sustainability to be a direct school subject in the accelerated literacy project.

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The challenges

  • The challenges had been a lack of funds despite the acceptance of the initiative by the government. Lack of funds is not shown to the education authorities; our charity uses miscellaneous funds and salary from Nektarina to keep the initiative afloat.
  • A break in communication across the board
  • Left in suspense with regards the current status of the international office and project implementations across the various projects

Recommendations

  • Prompt response to project activities to enhance work as scheduled
  • Clearer lines of communication for updates to reduce waiting times of country manager and team.

Ebola and What it Revealed in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

May 2015, Sierra Leone

Ebola became a household name when it unleashed its wrath on the majority of innocent and ignorant inhabitants of Sierra Leone in May of 2014. There was little knowledge about the Ebola virus and its transmission thread, and its symptoms were the same as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera and other common ailments prevalent in the country.

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However, despite warnings from World health organization emphasizing the deadliness of the disease, not much was in place to stop its spread. It overran the country and became uncontrollable, killing thousands of people and leaving some physically challenged and others bearing the brunt of other consequences such as being orphaned, stigmatized, and fleeing their homelands to would-be protected and safe communities where they met their untimely death.

The consequences did not stop there; it halted commerce, travel and the operations of extractive industries. Most people lost their jobs, schools and colleges closed for almost a year, farmers ate up seeds reserved for farming, and most foreign nationals had to leave. This in its entirety burst the economy with the inhabitants bearing the dire consequences.

There was seen a national and global complacency in the fight against Ebola. The nationals had ill knowledge about the disease and were generally ill-equipped to tackle the spread of the disease. The global response was very slow. Complacency and traditional beliefs overtook the real fight, disregarding the Ebola preventative messages and manipulating funds for self-gain rather than collectively using the resources to eradicate the virus disease.

However, as it became an international grand challenge, the global alliance to fight the deadly virus had a breakthrough in bringing the spread of Ebola under control. The exercises in achieving this success were very costly to the people of Sierra Leone, however, it had to be done, to save the nation from a catastrophic situation. Proactive local measures also make up part of the larger resilience in the fight against Ebola.

The times are yet challenging as the majority of the citizenry are struggling with daily survival. However, as infection rates dwindle, the government ordered the reopening of all schools and colleges on 16 April 2015 with precautionary measures put in place to protect the teachers and learners.

Learners received news of schools resuming with joy. One can feel and sense their joy as they had since been carrying on without the right to education, association and play. Many parents are still skeptical about the safety of their kids while the virus is still killing people, and every parent or guardian should take the time to remind their kids about Ebola, with messages of avoiding companionship, play and contacts of any nature. Schools hold veronica buckets as a policy for every child to wash his or her hands and go through temperature test to qualify for entry into the school compound.

  learners are happy to get back to school after the ebola crisis

The reopening of schools was not spontaneous, the government in itself was not sure of parents sending their kids to school. A national campaign reassuring parents of the safety measures already put in place by the education, health and the national Ebola response centre was done. However, the first week was unpleasant and even the second week. It gained roots in the first week of May when kids turned out in their thousands to rejoin themselves in learning after a restricted safety period of almost one year.

It is worth seeing the reunification of learners, disregarding all precautionary measures and counsel from parents hugging each other and explaining stories about the devastation of their various communities by the Ebola virus disease. They play football together, smack each other and do their tricks. In the heat, they cluster despite knowledge of avoiding body contact.

However, the first lessons are on Ebola in every school across the country. How to sustain the gains already scored in the fight against Ebola. The kids are now torchbearers at home in the fight against Ebola. They pass on the messages to their parents and other family members. They also watch with keen interest defaulters of the precautionary measures at home. They are also bold enough to tell their parents to wash their hands and even have a shower after any trip to the city centre, market, workplace or whatever.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus exposed the overall inadequacies of the country. It spans from poor health care delivery, high illiteracy rate, over-reliance on tradition over modern wisdom, selfish tendencies, filthiness, poor personal hygiene, ugly environmental decay, corrupt nature to the bones at higher levels, poor educational facilities, poor transportation service, very disgraceful social services specific to children’s welfare, greed at every cadre, unsustainable practices at every cadre of society, and disregard for the rural poor. The list has no end in sight…

The consequences are vivid, suffering of the poor in every human rights perspective. Will lessons be learnt – this remains the million-dollar question.

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There are still plenty of needs, but if charities intervene, will the grants benefit the needy or will it go into private pockets and fabulous reports written with beautiful photos to convince donors whilst the actual beneficiaries continue to languish in squalor – this is a great concern. This is borne out of experience working in a poor country like Sierra Leone…living it, feeling it and seeing it. Action taken in mind of this has been positive – frantically stepping out and making noise about it for a turnaround in the situation…this is one way of several other ways employed by the reporter.

Attention should be paid to direct foreign aid; it is worthwhile to come as volunteers to accomplish your heart’s desires of helping; or seek credible local charities to accomplish such tasks in an honest and transparent manner for the good of humanity.

This Earth Day, Stand up for Youth Engagement

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, Regions, Take Action

first-photograph-of-the-entire-earth-nasa-apollo-8-1968Photo Source: Google

It is true that the most celebrated photograph in the world is of Earth, famously called Earthrise. In 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 mission took a photograph of Earth from space. The photograph of a beautiful azure planet floating peacefully changed our perspective of Earth as not just a mere dump. Humanity started viewing it as a delicate living planet where millions of species live together, sharing this vast space and calling it home.

The photograph is also credited for initiating the environmental movement and giving birth to 22 April as Earth Day. For once I am happy to know that Earthrise is the most celebrated photograph in the world and it is not of a woman. Knowing how a woman’s body is objectified these days and is used to sell everything from men razors to boxer shots. This restored my faith in humanity.

We can’t take the earth for granted especially given the fast deteriorating condition of the global environment. Sustainable lifestyle choices are the need of the time. With youth making up half of the population, it is important to raise awareness among young people on how to take care of the earth so that life may persist.

This Earth Day we need to stand up for youth engagement. The Earth Charter Principle 12c stresses the importance of youth engagement.

 “Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.”
Education for Sustainability, a project of Nektarina Non-Profit, believes that to establish a just and sustainable society it is important to engage youth, empower them and work to build their capacity. In the past, Nektarina Non-Profit has worked closely with the Earth Day Network, keeping in mind the Earth Charter principles. Nektarina Non-Profit has been offering platforms to youth to learn the values of a sustainable way of life in India, Ghana, Cameroon , Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.  It plans to continue supporting youth, encouraging them to embrace the sustainability vision of Earth Charter.

To celebrate World Environment Day 2014 in India, Nektarina Non-Profit organized a rally in Pune. Students from different institutions, universities, schools, and colleges; representatives of civil society organizations, companies, and political parties were gathered at one event to celebrate World Environment Day. It did manage to raise awareness among young people about the environmental issues and how to make sustainable lifestyle choices, care for the Earth and be an active participant in the environment movement. This year again Nektarina Non Profit will be holding an event in India in June.

Youth engagement is not just a buzzword in the development field. The term has more to do with youth involvement in challenging unsustainable norms and taking responsible actions to create positive change. Instead of waiting for a grand cataclysmic change it is time to give our little contribution, whenever and wherever possible. So this Earth Day let’s stand up for youth engagement and put the planet Earth in the hands of informed citizens of tomorrow.

E4S Awareness Session in India

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, Uncategorized

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As part of the Education for Sustainability project in India, we have continued work with our partner Zest Youth Movement, focusing particularly on awareness sessions as one of our main initiatives.

There is an urgent need to educate people in general, youth and children in particular, on sustainability, as knowledge and information can be a tool of great empowerment for change, and this is the only way we will become more sustainable. Therefore we use these awareness sessions and workshops to reach out to thousands of students directly to teach them about sustainability, inform them about sustainable lifestyles, and make sure they are aware of key environmental issues.

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We recently conducted an Education for Sustainable Development awareness session at Yashwantrao Chavan Secondary School and Vishwakarma English Medium School, in Pune, India. More than 500 students and 20 teachers attended the session.

The awareness session was just one part of the Environmental Awareness Week program organised by Pune Municipal Corporation. We also held a Best Out of Waste session and hosted a screening of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary HOME.

Through these sessions, we hoped to achieve multiple goals:

  • To reach as many students as possible, and contribute to making them aware of environmental issues and sustainable lifestyles.
  • To have an additional successful activity which can be used to strengthen advocacy arguments by showing how schools and students are interested in sustainability.
  • To enable the realisation that we have a shared responsibility to care for the earth and that individuals have the power to become agents of change.
  • To spread the message of UNEP – Every action counts, and when multiplied by a global chorus, becomes exponential in its impact.
  • To help children and young people understand that resources need to be managed carefully to be sustainable.
  • To address global environmental issues like excess waste, food, deforestation, climate change, etc.
  • To encourage students to take action to improve their local environment by making it cleaner and safer.

As well as the awareness session and the documentary screening, there were several other activities for students to engage in, from other videos to open discussion sessions.

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