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  • Writer's pictureJessica Kind

Sustainability Day

Happy Sustainability Day!

Today is a great time to pause for reflection. The last few years have brought home to us an undeniable truth: We are inextricably linked to nature, and the climate and environmental crisis that is rapidly unfolding before us is a threat to humanity.

The word sustainability has been an often mentioned goal of businesses, nonprofits, and governments during the past decade. But what does that actually mean?

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Or to put it simply: we can only use as many natural resources as we can regrow. A pioneer of sustainability, John Elkington, coined the concept in the mid 1990s of the triple bottom line – the notion that business should think beyond immediate profit and take into account social and environmental issues too.

Yet, measuring the degree to which an organization is being sustainable can be difficult. Tui’k Ruch’Lew has been using a framework that goes beyond the traditional measures of profits, return on investments, and shareholder value. We incorporate environmental and social dimensions, which are key to sustainability for our program, into our project design. We strongly believe that this is key to limiting global warming and mitigating the devastating effects of climate change.

How do we measure our success to be sustainable?

Because we are certified by Verra for our contribution to sustainable development, we are reporting on the sustainable development benefits of our high-impact project activities. Our project activities under Verra’s SD VISta framework are:

  1. Installation of energy-efficient cookstoves in Tz’utujil Maya communities

  2. Provision of energy efficiency improvements to existing cookstoves

  3. Distribution of water filters

  4. Replacement of incandescent light bulbs with LEDs

  5. Offering a microsaving program for use by our stove beneficiaries

With these project activities, we are contributing to 8 of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs)--we are taking Climate Action Now. And we are proud of our achievements. Have a look at our contributions:

Providing people with a clean and safe cookstove is a basic service necessary to lead to a healthy life that also saves time and money by drastically reducing the amount of firewood that is needed for traditional, and widely used, open fires.

Eliminating indoor air pollution (through use of a chimney) and drastically reducing outdoor air pollution (clean burning, filtering of the smoke) increases the overall health of the Tz’utujil Maya families, especially women and children.

Reducing the time women and children spend on unpaid work (collecting firewood in the mountains, long cooking time) helps close the gender gap.

Clean water is essential to life.

Clean cooking is essential to addressing energy poverty and ensuring sustainable energy security.

Energy access enables enhanced productivity while our microsavings program enables access to community savings.

Energy-efficient cookstoves reduce GHG and black carbon emissions and are, therefore, directly contributing to the prevention of climate damaging emissions. Moreover, the reduced woodfuel consumption is protecting native forests, which sequester carbon. A win-win situation for our climate and for the local ecosystems.

Woodfuel harvesting in the native forests around Santiago Atitlan is unsustainable and contributes to forest degradation, deforestation, and climate change.

If you want to support our efforts to strengthen Tz’utujil Maya communities, here are some ways:

  1. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)

  2. Join our mailing list

  3. Make a donation on Global Giving

  4. Volunteer with us (Get in touch)

Happy Sustainability Day!

Jessica and the Tui’k Ruch’ Lew team

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