Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sustainable Development with Heifer International

Now is the time for companies to follow a holistic approach and promote sustainable development. Heifer International, a non-governmental organization has been making significant contributions to this cause. It donates a wide variety of trees and animals to needy families all around the world. The organization has developed global initiatives to end hunger and poverty. Due to its efforts, not only millions of hungry people all over the world are getting fresh vegetables, milk and eggs but many poor families have also started their business and built new homes.

Heifer International follows the strategy of ‘passing on the gift’. The recipient of the animal is required to donate the offspring of the gifted animal to someone in need. This makes them an equal partner with the organization in fighting poverty and hunger. The organization is also involved in transporting food, providing training on animal husbandry, sustainable farming and community development.

Heifer meets all standards for charitable solicitation set by the Better Business Bureau. It is also a member of BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance. People who donate money to support this cause can also designate their gift to certain country programs. It feels great to learn how a simple strategy of ‘passing the gift’ can create a large network of self reliance, hope and dignity. More organizations need to realize the importance of sustainable efforts and set such examples for ensuring a better future.

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Sustainable Development with Sustainable Tourism

Can tourism make a positive contribution in sustainable development? The answer is yes! You will be surprised to know that besides creating revenue and jobs, the tourism sector can also contribute in improving eco-friendliness. The UN World Tourism Organization recently launched a campaign in the wake of promoting this sector for achieving sustainable development. According to experts, this industry can play a major role in dealing with pressing issues like global recession and climate change. However, it does not get the deserved attention when these subjects are discussed globally.

We all know that uncontrolled rise in tourism can have detrimental effects on the local cultures as well as on the environment. But if managed properly, it can help any developed or emerging economy attain socially, environmentally and economically sustainable development. As compared to other industries, the effect of tourism on the environment and natural resources is less. It plays an important role in encouraging commitment of consumers towards the principals of environmental sustainability through various distribution channels.

There has been an overwhelming response on sustainable tourism from corporate all around the globe. An effective environmental program has been developed by the largest Canadian hotel conglomerate, Canada Pacific Hotels to redesign the purchase policies for reducing water wastage. They have also launched a recycling program for decreasing the waste being sent for landfill by 50%. The Kandalama Hotel in Sri Lanka has received the “Green Globe” aware thrice for its commitment towards the ‘go green’ cause. Various inter-regional initiatives have also been taken to use tourism for sustainable development. The key to success lies in encouraging more participation from industrial organizations and trade association.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

India’s Barefoot College - Bringing Back Smiles

The term ‘Barefoot College’ is symbolic as well as literal for thousand of poor illiterate men, women and children in remote villages of India. Started in 1971 in Tilonia, Rajasthan, this college has been training villagers to become “barefoot” architects, midwives, pathologists, solar and water engineers, accountants and even IT workers at their own pace. Unlike various global initiatives to promote sustainable development, this college has been transforming lives in Rajasthan for the past 35 years in a quiet but revolutionary manner. Once the villagers are trained, they use their skills within their community.

Disadvantaged members, especially women from villages all over India are sent to this collage where they learn new skills and also earn a small stipend. It’s great to know how Barefoot College has placed poor families on the path of financial self-reliance and contributed to the global cause of sustainable development.

The college may have given hope and brought smiles on millions of faces but its achievements have also been more than great. Solar powered lighting has been provided to 136 remote Himalayan villages by barefoot engineers. Night schools conducted at Barefoot College have made it possible for more than 15,000 children to get basic education.

In case you are wondering how far the barefoot approach can go, you will be pleased to learn that the college is now involved in training villagers from countries like Ethiopia, Senegal, Bhutan, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan as well. For Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College, the process has been the real achievement rather than the result but for families that have benefitted from this college; a new life has been given to them.

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