On Saturday, 27 March at 8:30 p.m. local time, Earth Hour united individuals, businesses, and leaders from all over the world to shine a spotlight on the health of the planet, raising awareness on the importance of nature and inspiring action for a brighter future for nature and people. With COVID-19 safety regulations continuing in several parts of the world, many countries celebrated Earth Hour online, mobilizing millions of people from across the globe to speak up for nature.
As lights dimmed in homes and cities, Earth Hour brought people together to put a virtual spotlight on our planet and the role people can play in global efforts for nature.
With mounting evidence establishing a close link between nature’s destruction and rising incidences of infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19, Earth Hour served as an unmissable opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of nature, in a year when leaders will take key decisions on nature, climate change and sustainable development.
”Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests, or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall. And this is because of the way we live our lives and run our economies. Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
“We must stop taking nature for granted, respect its intrinsic value, and – importantly – value the crucial services it provides to our health, wellbeing, and economy. We need to unite and take urgent action now to set nature on the path to recovery and secure a nature-positive world while supporting climate action. By acting for nature, we can all create a healthier, fairer, and more sustainable world.”
Renowned public figures, celebrities, youth organizations, and businesses from across the globe supported Earth Hour to draw attention to nature and climate crises. In recognition of the critical role young people will play in creating a more sustainable world, many global youth groups including Fridays For Future, AIESEC, United Nations Global Youth Biodiversity Network, Global Scouts, YMCA, and Global Youth Action Team participated in Earth Hour calling for a safer, healthier future for all.
Earth Hour Highlights
Earth Hour Philippines generated a total of 3,917,073 social media impressions locally prior to March 27, with Facebook alone reaching 3,472,323 individuals. A further 97,177 individuals were reached on the night itself during the screening of WWF-Philippines’ Earth Hour celebrations.
A number of establishments across the country also participated in this years’ Earth Hour with their own lights-off events. The lights of the Rizal Monument at Luneta Park were switched off, as well as those of Araneta Coliseum, the headquarters of GMA, Ayala Malls, Filinvest, and CityMall properties, and other locations across the country. Multiple cities and LGUs across the Philippines also participated in the iconic switch-off event.
Various businesses and government agencies offered pledges of support to the movement, including a message from the Republic of the Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. “I join everyone in the annual observance of this symbolic switching-off of non-essential lights for an hour, which is an important call for climate action in this crucial time of history. The previous year has truly been a challenging period for us all, and the environmental adversities we faced have shown us the urgency to unite in addressing pressing issues that directly affect our planet,” said President Duterte.
“It is clear that we are active agents that can change the fate of all living things, even those that come into being beyond our lifetimes. Our responsibility, then, becomes clear – because our actions as human beings have grown in scale, power, and scope, it is incumbent upon us to fashion systems, policies, and practices that are sustainable. This is why movements like Earth Hour and the greater environmental cause will always be relevant. The protection of our environment is not just advocacy – it carries the foundation of our way of life and the world,” said Vice-President Leni Robredo.
EH PHlix, a Web Series for a Sustainable Tomorrow
In celebration of Earth Hour Philippines 2021, WWF-Philippines held EH PHlix, a web series put together with the help of the organizations’ many ambassadors and official partners. PHlix gathered experts in environmental education, sustainable dining, and plastic waste management, to discuss measures that ordinary Filipinos could take to lead more sustainable lifestyles.
EH PHlix opened with Wildlife Conservation for Kids, hosted by WWF-Philippines Ambassadors Mikee Cojuangco-Jowarski and Xia Vigor, together with the WWF-Philippines Education for Sustainable Development team. Afterward was Feed the Future: Sustainable Dining 101 with WWF-Philippines Ambassadors Pia Wurtzbach and KC Concepcion as well as Chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Souv! and Green Pastures, Rina Papio of SoilMate and Green Space, and the WWF-Philippines Sustainable Diner team. This was followed by Tackling the Plastic Problem, which was hosted by WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Iza Calzado and KALIPI President Wilma Arevalo alongside the WWF-Philippines Plastic Program.
EH PHlix concluded with the Countdown to Earth Hour, hosted by WWF-Philippines National Ambassadors Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez. Messages on the significance of climate change and appeals for climate action and conservation were delivered by Secretary Emmanuel M. de Guzman of the Climate Change Commission, WWF-Philippines Earth Hour Pilipinas National Director Atty. Angela Ibay and WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio. A message to the youth of today from the members of the WWF-Philippines National Youth Council was also delivered. This was followed by a short panel discussion wherein Climate Change Commissioner Atty. Rachel Anne Herrera joined Atty. Ibay, Ms. Custodio, and WWF-Philippines Ambassador Karen Ibasco in discussing the need for a green recovery post-pandemic. This, in turn, was followed by the final countdown to Earth Hour. Videos from WWF International, as well as from partners and ambassadors of WWF-Philippines, were played throughout the hour.
“Earth Hour, for one, is a thank you to everyone who has been joining us over the years and for joining us again this year. It is also a call to action – even as we celebrate Earth Hour, we know that there are a lot of things we still need to do. We still need to push our government to submit the country’s NDC, we still need to be able to do a lot of things for the environment not just in the Philippines but all over the world, but I know that with everyone’s help and with this movement of Earth Hour, we’ll be able to get to a sustainable future,” said Atty. Angela Ibay, Earth Hour Pilipinas National Director and Head of the Climate Change and Energy Programme of WWF-Philippines.
Earth Hour Philippines 2021 also encouraged Filipinos from all across the country to push for stronger climate action and to protect and speak out for the environment in their individual lives. Filipinos were invited to share their hopes and dreams for a sustainable future through the hashtag #SpeakUpForNature, and to stand in solidarity with individuals from across the globe.
“While we exercise safety and stem the effects of the pandemic, we must also address the root causes, which is the degradation of nature compounded by climate change. Meanwhile, millions of low-income Filipinos suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change and loss of nature. In the midst of this dire situation, we do need to stay focused and solutions-oriented, and say that we can work with nature and not against it, and that nature should benefit all… How can we speak up for nature? The best way, really, is to let our actions do the talking,” said WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio.