Earth Hour - Unite For The Planet

In its eighth year, WWF’s Earth Hour continues to defy expectations by mobilising hundreds of millions of people around different environmental priorities across the planet. 

And now in 2014, the movement further expands its digital and on the ground reach from the Amazon to the Arctic and Tahiti to Tanzania, with a groundswell of action creating massive impact around the world to shine a light on the incredible work being done to create a sustainable planet.

“Earth Hour has always been more than just about lights off, it’s about people from all walks of life coming together throughout the year to show what they can do to protect the planet,” says Andy Ridley, CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour from the movement’s home in Singapore.

Last year alone saw thousands of Argentinians petition to pass a senate bill to protect a marine area 28 times the size of New York City and WWF-Uganda began the fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month by creating the first ‘Earth Hour Forest’. In 2012, Russians also petitioned to get legislative change protecting the country’s seas from oil pollution and now are striving to protect an area of forest twice the size of France. These Earth Hour success stories illustrate the movement has become a global collaboration to show what can be achieved for the planet.

“What makes Earth Hour different is that it empowers people to take charge and to use their power to make a difference. The movement inspires a mixture of collective and individual action, so anyone can do their part,” said Ridley.

And this year, after the lights have gone off, Earth Hour will continue to see the mobilising of people around the world taking action and using the movement as a platform to create some of the most inspiring digital and on the ground solution driven activities in its history. Here are a few examples from around the world that highlight the scope of this work:

The strongest storm to ever make landfall in recorded history claimed thousands of lives and left dozens of Philippine towns and cities in shreds, with as many as 146,000 sustenance fishermen losing their boats from Typhoon Haiyan, and also their sole means to provide for their families. WWF-Philippines is helping build fibreglass ‘Bancas’ for communities by training fishermen with skills to construct boats and build up their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

In Australia, where Earth Hour first began eight years ago, people all around the world will be adding their voice and using their power to protect one of the greatest natural wonders on the planet – The Great Barrier Reef. This iconic wonder is under great threat due to climate change and the recently approved government decision to develop a mega coal and gas port that would cause dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed and rock in its Marine Park.

During Earth Hour, people across Finland will use their voice for the Arctic, a region affected by climate change more than anywhere else in the world. Participants will pledge to increase the amount of renewable energy in the country for protection of species like the polar bear, which depend on ice and snow for survival and whose home is currently being lost due to the effects of climate change.

WWF-Nepal is reaching out to the global community to use their power to transform the lives of children in communities of Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape, by allowing them to go to school instead of accompanying their parents to collect firewood each day. The project ‘A Flame Called Hope’ is aimed at providing access to clean and alternate biogas energy, an affordable and highly effective technology which turns animal and human waste into biogas (a clean cooking gas) making it a far better alternative to wood.

Continuing to inspire the next generation of superheroes, WWF-India will launch a year-long education campaign for a monumental 15,000 schools across India. Schools will be encouraged to switch off for the Hour and switch on to more energy efficient practices. The school that makes the biggest impact based on criteria set by WWF-India will be titled “Earth Hour School Champion,” owing to their evident switch to greener and more efficient energy usage.

In Uganda, WWF will equip the community around the Earth Hour Forest with energy saving stoves and solar lights to ensure they become the guardians of the newly planted forest long into the future, to help end deforestation in this unique and precious woodland.

This year when the whole world switches its lights off for Earth Hour, WWF-Colombia will “switch on” the Amazon Rainforest. Known as the ‘world’s lungs’, the Amazon is quickly disappearing with mining and ranching leading to loss of species and pollution. The project from Colombia, supported by Latin American ambassador Claudia Bahamón, allows global participants to invest in the largest ecosystem and air, water and life producer on the planet. 

In Argentina people are using the movement to take action in their households, workplaces and communities and have a simple goal with a big impact. Argentineans will turn off their lights in support of the legislative measure to replace ignition water heater systems with efficient electric systems, to avoid the passive consumption of gas equivalent to powering 800,000 homes in the country for one year. 

In Russia efforts are being directed to the conservation of the Amur Leopard, which is one of the most endangered species on the planet. People across the globe are encouraged to help support WWF-Russia’s on the ground field projects across the Russian territory to help save five key species of endangered animals living in the region.

From creative campaigns to acoustic concerts, cyclothons to candlelit marches, ?ash mobs to dance performances and tree planting to recycling drives – this year people from all walks of life are uniting to become Superheroes for the Planet on the night to celebrate Earth Hour 2014 in an effort to drive global action to protect the planet.

Earth Hour event activities will be amplified on islands across the world, with music becoming a major focus to inspire environmental action in the places on the forefront of climate change and sea level rise. Reggae artists in Jamaica will perform an acoustic concert for the second year running; and in Tahiti, 5000 people will gain entry to a massive acoustic concert at Stade Paster by handing in a piece of recyclable waste they’ve collected to avoid landfill.

WWF-Belgium is enlisting the support of some of the country's best known bands to play in the living rooms of 40 committed Earth Hour supporters, who register their unplugged party online before the global celebration on March 29. Local bands include Suarez, Hush Hush and Alek et les Japonaises and will be among those amplifying the movement in Belgium on-the-night, again using music as a way to connect people behind the common desire to protect the one place we all share.

On a national level WWF-France will encourage citizens to launch a massive tweet storm to ensure that representatives at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015 will finally sign an international treaty requiring all nations to begin reducing carbon emissions for 2020.

Participants all over the world will be asked to help WWF in Galapagos protect the Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, via a digital petition launched at the Earth Hour event. This petition aims to reduce and eventually put a ban on plastic bags, disposable cups and straws across the islands.

 “People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour global community. They are true beacons of hope, demonstrating what happens when innovation and passion come together to address the biggest challenges of our time. They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren’t unique, this is happening all over the world,” said Andy Ridley, CEO and Co- Founder, Earth Hour.

From Earth Hour Global’s home – Singapore, at the heart of Asia, the recently launched Earth Hour Blue is a key example of global digital engagement. The revolutionary platform for the planet allows anyone in any country to use their voice or their dollar to take action and support projects of their choice across the globe, encouraging participants to use their favourite social platforms to engage in their favourite crowdfunding and crowdsourcing projects.

As a newcomer to the crowdfunding scene, Earth Hour Blue has launched with WWF projects from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Nepal, India, Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Canada and Columbia which are now all live on the crowdfunding platform powered by Crowdonomic. 

The real engagement in Earth Hour Blue is expected to spike during the signature lights off event, when the strong call to action will be made to hundreds of millions of people to take their commitment beyond the hour by backing a crowdfunding project or getting involved in a crowdsourcing campaign once the lights go back on. 

"We're starting small with around 20 projects this year, but our vision is to really expand once next Saturday's event has taken place. The projects have been chosen based on their scalability, so even if the target has not been met, a small amount of funds raised will still help implement an outcome on-the-ground," says Ridley.

Inspired by the beyond the hour activity, Earth Hour will this year ask participants to share how they are being Superheroes for the Planet via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook platforms promoting the #EathHour and #YourPower hash-tags.

This year as millions of people watch lights going out around the world, famous landmarks confirmed to participate in the event include the Empire State Building, Tower Bridge - London, St Pauls, Edinburgh Castle, Brandenburg Gate, the Eiffel Tower, The Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe to Asia, the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and many more.

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