REAP International invites interested organizations to join us in the Second Annual Green Walk at Lake Baikal (Siberia), to take place in the summer of 2000. It is our objective to use this event as the basis for new coalition-building and NGO involvement at Lake Baikal. The Walk will provide your organization with the opportunity to become involved directly or indirectly with this unique place and its particular set of environmental/economic challenges. Our objective is to make Baikal accessible to the widest number of organizations and individuals from the United States, other countries and other regions of Russia.
The structure of the Walk is very simple. Participants walk along established roads, passing through villages and towns and sleeping in tents. Camping equipment and food are transported by truck. Participants are responsible for making camp meals. There are meetings with locals, visits to businesses and organizations, cultural and group activities. In 2000 there will also be several mini-projects undertaken by the Walkers. The Walk will be about three weeks with an optional fourth week.
REAP's Green Walk partners include the Russian nongovernmental organizations "FIRN" and "Aura" and the Ministry of Education and Science of Buryatia. REAP has been bringing people to Russia since 1992.
Baikal is the world's most unique lake. Since it joined UNESCO's World Heritage Program in 1996, there have been an increase in local organizations at Baikal which address its social, economic and environmental problems. But there has also been a decrease in formal international involvement, particularly in the republic of Buryatia. Nor has Buryatia advanced economically in recent years. This is most serious because Buryatia is the primary caretaker for Baikal, with proportionally more shoreline, rivers and resource usage than its watershed neighbors of Irkutsk or Chita.
The First Annual Green Walk concluded July 18, 1999 revealed the crisis of this situation. The 10-day Walk covered 122 kilometers, passed through 23 villages and made contact with nearly 1,000 local people in large and small gatherings. The overriding point made by those people:
They are distressed at how they are forced to live, which causes them to destroy their environment for survival, and thus destroys their quality of life. They said no one but our Walkers had heard their concerns or offered to be their representatives. They were eager for any form of support.
We invite you to walk with us, to see for yourself, and to provide assistance in your own particular ways. The Walk will also provide opportunities for interested parties to sponsor Russian youth in projects. You may also have simultaneous cooperating events at your location to promote solidarity.
In the coming months the final design of the Green Walk will be determined. Please consider the Walk for one of your formal organizational activities, or as a chance for interested members to do something on their own. Your support is welcome in any form. Much of this work will be aimed at cooperation with rural schools and local youth leaders who can be your partners. As in the past, REAP will also try to involve rural educators, scientists, local administrators, academics and others into this work.
REAP will provide coordination and facilitation for your organization to take part. In November we will post the full details for participation in the Walk, cooperation, or sponsorships of youth leadership projects.
Please contact us if you are interested in this project.
1427 4th Street SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404
ATTN: Bill Mueller, Director
Last updated: October 1999