THE BLOG
04/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What's Up With the Rainforest: School of Architecture Builds Sustainable Health Care

The Rainforest Newsladder has prompted an awareness of what is at stake if we continue living without regard to how our actions impact our environment and future. This week, the stories have highlighted the next question we should all be thinking: what will it require to make the future change for the better? What actions must we - as individuals, families, corporate CEOs, government officials, activists - take to secure a path that guides us to a cleaner, safer, and healthier world? No one decision will solve this problem, just as no one action created all the destruction. However, this can't be used an excuse to give up, nor does it give us the right to leave the mess behind for the next generation, hoping that they will be able to clean it up. It means that now, more than ever, the ability to look ahead with a commitment to innovation, cooperation and courage must lead each step forward. We, along with our partner the Rainforest Alliance, urge you to find any way to help move us towards a brighter future, and to spotlight what issues you would like to bring awareness to by joining in the conversation at the Rainforest Newsladder.

Our first story this week shows how it can be a difficult task trying to balance a concern for conservation when tackling the issue of healthcare and human development. Health in Harmony (HIH) has incorporated health and eco-conservation programs focusing on affordable healthcare and environmental conservation strategies in West Kalimantan. HIH also collaborated with the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Architecture to create a hospital that would help both the health of the people, as well as the earth. Projects like these allow HIH to provide superior health support to the community, provide incentives for the locals to increase conservation practices that limit illegal logging and deforestation, and provide work opportunities to patients so that they may pay for their health services.

But you don't need to be an expert to make a difference. At only 12 years old, Spencer Tait has already made it his mission to save Africa's okapi, a unique animal threatened by the deforestation and civil conflict found in the Congo. Spencer has increased awareness and funds for the cause by educating others through his website www.savetheokapi.com and organizing school newsletters.

Unfortunately not every story has a happy ending, as seen in Peru where courageous individuals were also the victims of injustice. In 2009, a demonstration in the northern Amazon, protesting against government decisions that opened indigenous land in the rainforest to oil, mining and logging companies turned violent killing at least 10 protesters and 12 policemen and landing two of the protestors in prison. However, the crime scene investigations show that two young men never fired a shot, yet they have remained in jail for over eight months. It is these acts of human injustice that will further discourage environmental changes and therefore must not be viewed acceptable.

Recently, there has been a focus on the production of palm oil, which is found in half of all the best-selling foods in the world but continues to destroy the rainforest as protected land is cleared for plantations. In order to change this, the environment will need to become a part of our decision making model. This week we can see this shift through global household goods manufacturer Unilever, who announced the company will no longer buy supplies from the Indonesian company Duta Palma, after BBC documented protected rainforest being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations.

That wraps up our check in with the Rainforest Newsladder, but you don't have to wait another week to get the stories. The Rainforest Newsladder is your constant connection to the all the latest news and information, so visit us today and post the stories you want people to start talking about. And be sure to check us out on Facebook.