By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The organizers of the annual Earth Hour event this year have made adjustments amid the global public health emergency.
“Make health and safety your priority as we face this global pandemic,” the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-Philippines) said.
While the country observes “social distancing” and other measures to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease, WWF-Philippines urged Filipinos to still “help our planet recover from the inside of your homes, and be mindful of the impact you have, not just on the environment, but also on your fellow living beings.”
“We must do what we can for one another in these trying times,” it added.
This year’s Earth Hour event will be going digital on Saturday, March 28.
The annual event started as a “lights out” event in Sydney, Australia in 2007, then the Philippines joined the switch-off event in 2008.
This year, the movement will be inviting millions of supporters to showcase their support online through Voice for the Planet.
The e-signatures will then be presented at international forums, such as the United Nations General Assembly, to help secure a new deal for nature that addresses nature loss and environmental decline in order to safeguard shared futures.
“We want to be able to use Earth Hour to galvanize people, to bring our messages forward–that our own actions have an effect on our planet, and that our own actions are also the solution that will be able to provide for us and for our shared home,” said WWF-Philippines and Earth Hour Pilipinas national director Angela Ibay said.
“Our government is ready to partner with the rest of society to make sure that when we take care of the environment, we take care of society. The government, with its broad support, will help make things possible, to make sure that in this era of climate change, we will survive and thrive,” said Climate Change Commission policy research and development division chief, Jerome Ilagan.
Public support and the translation and mainstreaming of conservation science across all levels of Philippine government are crucial in addressing the country’s environmental issues, Ilagan added.
“There’s this whole digital space that we haven’t fully maximized yet. So, Earth Hour, in a lot of countries, is going online this year,” Ibay said.
WWF-Philippines’ campaign #ChangeTheEnding aims to show the public that there are current realities that must be dealt with, such as changes in rain patterns coupled with the country’s growing population that could result in severe water shortages before 2030.
The groups said these are obvious scenarios that could occur if nothing is done now.
They asked businesses, local governments, and individuals to help combat these issues by going beyond mere commitments and to start performing actions for the Earth.
More importantly, WWF-Philippines is encouraging individuals to take part in Earth Hour 2020 from their own homes, through actions as simple as closing and leaving off non-essential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on March 28.
“This year, we decided to invest in a campaign that will reach beyond Earth Hour. This campaign will hopefully send a message that will show how everything that we’ve allowed to happen is affecting the generations after us. It’s us right now, however, who are in a position to make a change,” said WWF-Philippines and Earth Hour ambassador Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.
“From one small water bottle that you don’t use, to trying to minimize your travel, to eliminating, even, food waste, even if it’s just a teaspoon of rice, all around–up, down, left, right, we can always save. By doing these little saves, we eventually end up saving our environment. This way, we can change the ending,” WWF-Philippines executive director Joel Palma pointed out.