During the last few years, our projects have gone further than sustain themselves- they’ve flourished. We owe it in part to a mutual vision of a cleaner, equitable future with a web of conscientious entities who assist us in expanding our work into all global corners. Together, we are striving toward a planet where an equilibrium with nature is fulfilled by sharing our provisions and capabilities. On this World Environment Day, we are inviting everyone to join us as allies of the Earth. One of our primary missions this year is to be part of the initiative to End Ecocide- and Earth needs all of us to come together to make this mission a reality.
Last month, Tim Cook of Apple gave a speech at Tulane University where he suggests that civilization as we know it started out of collective cooperation, so to continue thriving, it’s imperative that we begin working together again. The Apple Corporation itself started with the intention of helping humanity work together. Technology was designed to connect us thoughtfully and remotely. He admitted, however, that his generation has failed the planet; politics, capitalism and fighting against one-another has distracted us from the larger picture- Climate Change, the great issue of our time.
Tim Cook openly addresses the preexisting issues in the Americas, acknowledging that most often those who already live in poverty are most heavily affected, and have to endure even greater poverty as a consequence. Of course, this is an imbalanced structure that will eventually lead us all to unchartered disasters if something doesn’t change soon. Cook suggests that it’s time to restructure our systems in uncertain times.
Make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile than working to leave something better for humanity.Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
These failures that Cook mentions are so easy for corporations to get away with because they’re more or less protected by law to do so. Large industries that pollute immeasurably and partake in daily Ecocide can only be sued (sometimes, though it is extremely difficult), yet are still by law allowed to continue their wrongdoings. Meanwhile, as activists and environmental protectors struggle to defend fragile ecosystems (a very altruistic action), they are being criminalized for their good deeds.
A law against ecosystem damage and destruction
Ecocide is no joke. It’s affecting all of us negatively in ways that we can’t even predict. Today, on World Environment Day, Barefoot College recognizes Earth Protectors, a group of legal advisors making Ecocide an International Crime by amending the Rome Statute – the document which governs International Criminal Law (and includes Genocide, War Crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression) to include Ecocide.
By supporting we acknowledge the concerns voiced in the past 40 years. From 96 countries, over 2,200 women have come to our college to learn solar but inadvertently became Earth Protectors as well. They deserve the legal right to defend their lives, as well as the living ecosystems on which their livelihoods depend.
We echo this urgency to act today, continuously focusing on solution-based initiatives. With the understanding that it is often underprivileged communities that take the brunt of an unsteady Climate and depleted ecosystems, it’s clear that they should be given the most attention and support. By empowering rural villages with knowledge and tools that provide them with a dually-effective sustainable, replicable livelihood, they can better defend themselves from future Climatic uncertainties.
From Solar Mamas to Climate Champions
We aren’t just sharing knowledge and tools- we’re sharing them with rural, illiterate and semi-illiterate women. The women of villages, often oppressed and under-utilized, contain a wealth of latent potential that is easily germinated when given a chance. Women possess Adaptive Intelligence- the ability to take the knowledge they receive and propel their own comprehensions from the first seeds planted. They can use a small incubation phase of education to create new ideas to suit their local situations. They create, expand and continue to grow when they are given a small kernel of acknowledgement.
By unlearning and relearning, we are all teaching ourselves to adapt to our current situations. We strive to take this approach in our own education systems with our women, harnessing the potential of self-reflection and mutual understanding. Listening to rural communities’ thoughts and needs is crucial, helping us to grow together and take a step towards the better world that Tim Cook spoke about.
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Just as these women- our Solar Mamas- have proven to be highly valuable allies in transforming the world into a more just collective, so have our small-scale rural programs. Our campus in Tilonia is home to a burgeoning regenerative Nursery department that has been re-greening our Barefoot College campus. The nursery is responsible for the “oasis of green” in Rajasthan, an Indian state known for incredibly hot temperatures and arid lands that often suffer from drought.
The Regenerative Agriculture‘s success has recently inspired the department’s staff to teach local rural schoolchildren, Solar Mamas and visitors to the campus about the importance of plants to healthy ecosystems. These small yet significant understandings can help regenerate ecosystems, protect soils and wildlife and even keep temperatures down. It’s also an introduction to food sovereignty, as plants provide the most nutrients and allow people to grow their own harvests locally. For World Environment Day, we are including new information about the Nursery Department on our site. Stay tuned for updates, projects and insights.
If you’d like to support our Regenerative Nursery project, any donations made on World Environment Day are earmarked to springboard the project.
Strengthening the means of implementation for sustainable development
Many of our programs are successfully being implemented because of our outstanding partnerships with members of the private sector. They recognize how Barefoot’s programs are effectively benefitting marginalized communities, and boost our capacity by supporting us.
We are into the 4th year of our partnership with Apple, who resonate with our intention of building sustainable communities worldwide. They have supported us with solar and educational programs across rural India and worldwide with our Solar Mamas. They’ve helped to make our Women Prosper project a reality, and have given our Night Schools tools that narrow the digital divide. Together, we’re evolving solar programs by transforming it into an enterprise model, using Apple products and additional technological support.
Swarovski helped us to pilot our Amazonia solar electric project since 2017, and now has expanded this collaboration into India. They’ve supported rainwater harvesting systems in 9 rural village schools that provide clean, reliable drinking water and also create awareness amongst students.
Entrepreneur opportunities that are context-relevant regionally are being created through a partnership with Starbucks. Seasonal tea estate workers of Assam, India are being supported and educated in tea production. 85 women will also be trained at workshops in honey production, our Enriche modules and the sales and fabrication of solar devices.
To provide clean, reliable household lighting in remote villages of 9 countries, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) supports our self-sustaining “Barefoot Approach” in community development. They’ve helped thus far to train 44 women of these countries in 2019 to become Solar Engineers, also helping to supply the trained women with the devices for their villages.
It is largely due to these collaborations with private sector partnerships that we can continue expanding our unique programs to more communities.
World Environment Day reminds us that these efforts are necessary and are the solution to the coming together of crucial resources. It also reminds us that with courage and action-based initiatives, we are fully capable of restructuring old systems into beautifully regenerative movements. These movements will aid us all in becoming protectors of the Earth.