2020 has seen us face new and complex challenges – some more unexpected than others. From the Australian wildfires, swiftly followed by the coronavirus pandemic – all against the backdrop of the growing threat of the climate emergency, which seemed to slip down the priorities list as the pandemic took hold. While the crises we faced exposed existing inequalities and fractures in society, and the world seemed more polarised than ever before, 2020 also revealed many new positive examples of collaboration and innovation, as well as a newly-discovered recognition of our responsibility, and our power as a society, to change things for the better.
Amid the chaos, RESET has been committed to providing our readers with the very best in evidence-based journalism for a more sustainable world. We’ve spotlighted changemakers from around the world – for example in our series Voices of Climate Justice, interviews with young activists from the Global South – and reported on a whole range of different projects and initiatives for positive social and climate impact. We’ve continued to work to shift the narrative away from doom and despair and towards a story of hope, inspiration and action. We hope to keep on creating this kind of critical, independent and solutions-based journalism in the long term – and as a non-profit, non-commercial organisation, RESET’s readers play a critical role in ensuring that happens. So as we present our favourite fundraising projects for 2020, consider supporting RESET’s reporting with a donation this year, and help us continue covering news you won’t find anywhere else – and that’s needed like never before.
After a year like 2020, it can be hard to decide which organisations can do the most good with your Christmas charity donation. RESET is here to help! We’ve taken a closer look at lots of projects that work for positive change, and picked out our favourites – innovative, transparent, and sure to have sustainable impact.
1. Rainforest Connection
Protecting and restoring forests is one of the most important things we can do to tackle climate change, while at the same time the rapid destruction of huge swathes of forest endangers ecosystems and poses an existential threat to numerous animal and plant species. Rainforest Connection is a non-profit organisation that cleverly uses digital tech to protect endangered forests. Using ingenious systems consisting of cell phones, solar chargers and microphones – they are able to create acoustic monitoring systems that can detect the sounds of chainsaws, trucks, cars, and other illegal incursions into forested areas – helping to put an end to illegal deforestation and animal poaching and to allow for targeted protection measures in real-time. They’ve been working in forests worldwide, from Africa to Latin America, constantly fine-tuning and optimising their work for the good of the forest. They recently even started applying artificial intelligence to improve the analysis of recordings and respond even quicker to threats to our planet’s precious forests.
Kiva is the world’s first direct, peer-to-peer micro-lending website that allows you to make small loans directly to unique entrepreneurs in the Global South. And with entrepreneurs and small businesses all around the world hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Kiva’s farmers, artisans, shopkeepers, builders and restaurant owners need support more than ever. Kiva is a unique organisation because their model goes way beyond the typical concept of charity. The focus is on helping people to help themselves – by granting them access to the capital they need to get their businesses off the ground or invest in equipment. This in turn allows them to take great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their communities. When you donate to kiva you can choose exactly who you want to support, you receive email updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need to make an even bigger impact!
3. Mare Liberum
For years now, human beings have been dying in the Mediterranean, and for years there have been massive human rights violations carried out in European waters, for example through illegal pushback actions and in camps where refugees are living in terrible and degrading conditions. And the coronavirus pandemic has only made the situation worse. Equipped with a ship floating off the coast of the Greek island of Lesvos, the NGO Mare Liberum monitors human rights in the Agean and collects evidence of criminal actions towards those seeking refuge at Europe’s shores – including those carried out by state actors such as Nato und Frontex. They report their findings to the European public and refugee lobby groups – raising awareness about the injustices being commited and designing and demanding a more equal, just and open society.
4. Against Malaria Foundation
While COVID-19 makes the headlines, in certain countries in the world, particularly on the African continent, malaria remains an even bigger existential threat, especially to young people and children. And the restrictions put in place by the coronavirus have hindered ongoing efforts to fight it, as well as drawing attention, and funds, away from the cause. Because the best way to not get malaria is to not get bitten in the first place, the Against Malaria Foundation has come up with a simple, low-cost and incredibly effective way to tackle the disease – distributing mosquito nets to affected communities and following up by tracking the data on infections to measure their effectiveness. It’s estimated that between 2000 and 2015, mosquito nets prevented 450 million malaria cases and saved 900,000 lives. A 2 USD donation is enough to buy one mosquito net that will protect two people for up to 4 years.
According to estimates from the World Bank, between 1990 and 2016, the world lost around 1.3 million square kilometres of forest – an area larger than South Africa. And unfortunately, reforestation isn’t just as simple as planting trees in the ground and leaving them to grow. Trees also need to be taken care of – in the long term – to ensure that they flourish and reach their full potential. The organisation WeForest has dedicated itself to the successful, and sustainable, community-based restoration of forests. WeForest is particularly active in tropical regions, where forests act as the most powerful carbon sinks and are particularly effective in mitigating global warming. Their focus is not only on planting new trees, but above all on ensuring their long-term growth and prosperity – in cooperation with local communities. The international non-profit organisation identifies the causes of deforestation and develops sustainable, economic alternatives together with the local population.
Undiscovered landmines are still a daily threat for millions of people around the world. They’re not only responsible for fatal and life-threatening injuries, but also make huge areas of land unusable for agriculture. The incredible troupe of giant pouch rats trained by Apopo are able to detect mines without setting them off – helping defuser teams carry out their dangerous work that much more safely. A donation to Apopo lets you adopt your own HeroRAT – you’ll receive an adoption certificate and monthly impact updates.
7. SOS Amazônia
Talking to the young environmental activist Abel Rodrigues from FridaysForFuture Brazil earlier this year, we found out about the SOS Amazônia campaign, which is fighting to protect the indigenous peoples of Brazil from the double threat of climate change and the coronavirus. The indigenous and riverside communities in the Amazon are the biggest defenders of the forest, and they are fundamental players in the fight against climate change.They have been hit hard by the coronavirus, as the pandemic threatens to wipe out many of the groups that live in isolation away from health centres and hospitals. The SOS Amazônia campaign is working to raise 1 million Brazilian reais (around 150,000 euro) to donate hygiene items, food supplies and health equipment to the Amazon region.
8. Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Our oceans, and the animals and plants living in them, are under threat from environmental and plastic pollution, massive overfishing and noise pollution. To ensure a healthy future for our seas, we urgently need more protected areas – but only five percent of the world’s seas are currently designated as such. The non-profit organisation Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) is primarily committed to the protection of these two marine mammals – because where these animals are doing well, the marine ecosystem thrives. With a donation to the organisation you can support WDC’s work against whaling and dolphin hunting, against animals being kept captivity and for more and more strictly-controlled marine protected areas. You can even choose to adopt an animal – a dolphin, humpback whale or orca.
9. School strikers for climate
The fight against climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time, with the climate crisis posing an existential threat to the ecosystems of our planet and to humanity as a whole. We need urgent action – from policymakers and politicians who have the power to set our societies on a more sustainable path. And we need it now. The international climate strike movement Fridays For Future has played a key role in recent years – both by putting pressure on politicians and raising awareness for the issue among the general public too. The original movement, which started in Sweden, and spread around the world, has also inspired many other young people to join climate strikes and make their voices heard. In the UK, the UK Student Climate Network, is a group of young strikers inspired by FFF who are putting diverse youth voices at the forefront of their work, calling on the UK government to take the necessary steps to ensure a liveable future for all, and ramping up their campaign in the run-up to the COP26 due to be held in Glasgow, UK, in 2021.
10. Smiles Africa
Having access to digital tools, and knowing how to use them, has always given certain sectors of society the upper hand over others, and now, following the digital boost we’ve seen in the past year, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is felt more intensely than ever. Every individual should have access to the opportunities and information offered by digital tools and services in an increasingly networked society. Smiles Africa is a German-Kenyan non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to providing future-oriented education to children and young adults from marginal communities in Kenya. One of the projects they initiated in 2020 is called Digital Empowerment – a series of workshops organised to equip young Kenyans with increasingly vital digital literacy skills. A donation to Smiles Africa will support future digital skills workshops and training sessions, and help them set up a Digital Empowerment Network, to share information, get new people on board, and encourage the sustainability and the replicability of the project.