MANILA, PHILIPPINES — On Saturday, 27 March at 8:30 p.m. local time, Earth Hour, one of the largest global grassroots movements for the environment, will virtually bring together millions of people, businesses, and leaders from around the world to shine a spotlight on the urgent need to address nature loss and climate change. With evidence pointing towards a close link between nature’s destruction and rising incidences of infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19, Earth Hour 2021 will unite people online to speak up for nature. This global event comes ahead of key moments when world leaders will take critical decisions on nature, climate change , and sustainable development, setting the course of our future.
The occurrence of several catastrophic incidents last year including extreme weather events, devastating wildfires and the COVID-19 outbreak highlighted that preventing nature loss is crucial for safeguarding our future. A global assessment of biodiversity targets showed that the world failed to meet the 2020 deadline for achieving the targets set for preventing nature loss a decade ago. Earth Hour marks a pivotal opportunity for civil society organizations, individuals, businesses and environmentalists to call on world leaders to set nature on a path to recovery by 2030.
“Healthy natural ecosystems are the cornerstone of thriving, equitable, and sustainable societies. Our current socio-economic models are leading to the devastating destruction of nature which is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerating climate change, and placing livelihoods at risk,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. ”2021 is a crucial year for humanity. As the world tries to turn the tide and recover from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild itself, we need to put nature at the center of our recovery efforts to future proof our economies and societies. Earth Hour is a critical moment for individuals, leaders, and environmentalists to unite and call for urgent action to reverse nature loss and secure a nature-positive world by 2030.”
In the past decade, Earth Hour has inspired global initiatives for the protection of nature, climate, and the environment, helping drive awareness, action, and policy change. The movement helped in the creation of 3.5 million hectares protected marine area in Argentina, a 2,700-hectare Earth Hour forest in Uganda, secured new legislation for the protection of seas and forests in Russia, pushed for a ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam products in the Ecuadorian capital, and initiated the planting of 20,000 mangrove seedlings in 13 cities in Indonesia.
Decade of Action
2020 marked the beginning of the “Decade of Action,” where measures must be undertaken to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030. The beginning of the 2020s also underscored an alarming reality – that the ASEAN region has been underperforming for many of the SDGs, and has, in fact, regressed in terms of climate action. In light of the coming SDG deadline and the many disasters that occurred last year as a result of climate change and environmental degradation, sector representatives from all across the globe have pushed for increased, ambitious action for the sake of the planet.
A recent draft of the Philippines’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), launched on the 5th of February, 2021, includes plans to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by the year 2030. This is a sharp increase compared to the less ambitious goal of 30% emission reduction by the year 2040, which had been included in a draft that was presented at the end of 2020. While the country’s carbon emission reduction goal is set at 75%, only 2% is marked as unconditional. Approximately 73%, meanwhile, is conditional – which means external support will be needed in order for the Philippines to meet its new, more ambitious climate commitments.
“We welcome the government’s increased commitment to combating climate change. We urge the government, however, to be more ambitious – marking only a 2% unconditional cut in emissions does not send a strong enough message through Philippine society about the importance of protecting the environment. Given the state of the environment today, as well as our country’s reliance on natural resources and the climate we have today, we must work to restructure our society towards becoming a green economy that puts nature first,” said WWF-Philippines Earth Hour Pilipinas National Director Atty. Angela Ibay.
Earth Hour Philippines 2021: PHlix
“The NDC we’ll set and the commitments we’ll make for the planet are the responsibility of all of Philippine society, from the government to businesses, to the communities and individuals. This Earth Hour is a reminder of this shared responsibility we have to take care of our planet, for the sake of our future and the futures of coming generations. We must work together and take action now, while there is still time for us to do so,” added Ibay.
Earth Hour 2021 is asking people to speak up for nature in as many diverse and creative ways as possible. People from across the globe can share their stories of why nature matters, and come together safely for the switch-off at 8:30 PM on the 27th of March. Additionally, WWF-Philippines is asking the Filipino public to lend their voices to the movement, by sharing their hopes and dreams for the future online, through the #SpeakUpForNature hashtag.
Similar to last year, Earth Hour Philippines 2021 will be mostly digital, with several online events held throughout the month of March. WWF-Philippines’ Ambassadors, together with the National Youth Council, have been sharing their visions for tomorrow while encouraging the public to share on social media their hopes and dreams for a sustainable future, as part of the rollout for the #SpeakUpForNature campaign. The Earth Hour Sustainability Challenge, meanwhile, will be running from the 11th to the 30th of March. The Earth Hour Sustainability Challenge will see local influencers sharing their own sustainable lifestyle choices while meeting various challenges set down by WWF-Philippines. Funds will be raised to support WWF-Philippines’ conservation efforts while encouraging Filipinos to make environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices.
“Each year, we hear about all the ways in which people try to make this difference for the sake of our home and our planet – and of course, this year is no different. That is why we’ve put together the Earth Hour Sustainability Challenge. We want you all to share with us what you’re doing for the planet, to show us that we can take action as well and that we can all speak up for nature,” said WWF-Philippines Ambassador Robi Domingo.
On the day itself, prior to the switch-off, WWF-Philippines will be running a watch party through their Facebook page. Named EH PHlix 2021, the live stream consists of several shows featuring different ways Filipinos can practice sustainability and speak up for nature from the safety of their homes. PHlix begins with Wildlife Conservation for Kids, hosted by WWF-Philippines Ambassadors Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and Xia Vigor, together with WWF-Philippines’ Education for Sustainable Development team; afterwards is Feed the Future: Sustainable Dining 101 with WWF-Philippines Ambassadors Pia Wurtzbach and KC Concepcion, the WWF-Philippines Sustainable Consumption and Production team, Rina Papio of Greenspace, and Cyma, Souv and Green Pastures owner Chef Robby Goco; finally, Tackling the Plastic Problem with WWF-Philippines Ambassador Iza Calzado, KALIPI President Wilma Arevalo and the WWF-Philippines Plastics Program.
“EH PHlix is a series of web shows on the environment and conservation, where we’ve brought together experts to talk about some of the most pressing environmental issues and the steps we can take to address them. Each episode, we’ll be joined with staff from WWF-Philippines, while field experts will join us to share with us their experiences in taking care of the planet,” shared WWF-Philippines Ambassador Karen Ibasco. “I’ll be speaking during this year’s countdown as well, this time as a guest; I’ll be talking alongside climate experts and conservationists, where we discuss what needs to be done for us to sustainably recover from this pandemic.”
“I’ve been working with WWF-Philippines and my fellow ambassadors over the past few weeks to put together EH PHlix. Preparing for this year’s Earth Hour has been a very different experience – but the past year has prepared us for this, and a virtual Earth Hour lets us reach millions of Filipinos,” added Ibasco.
“Many challenges had to be overcome in order to record this year’s Earth Hour, like recording from home without a live audience to support me. But I never felt alone and it never felt like a wasted effort, knowing that Filipinos from all across the country would be tuning in on Earth Hour to share the moment and to stand together for the planet… What we want Filipinos to understand coming out of Earth Hour PHlix, and with our work in WWF-Philippines in general, is that it isn’t difficult for us to make sustainable lifestyle decisions,” added WWF-Philippines Ambassador Pia Wurtzbach.
EH PHlix will run from 3:30PM to 9:30PM. The program will end with the Countdown to Earth Hour 2021, to be hosted by WWF-Philippines National Ambassadors Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez, and which will run from 7:00PM to 9:30PM. The grand switch-off will take place between 8:30PM to 9:30PM – WWF-Philippines encourages all viewers to share with them their own Earth Hour celebrations through social media.
Official hashtags for Earth Hour Philippines 2021 are #EarthHour2021, #EarthHourPhilippines2021, and #SpeakUpForNature.