With a minute to go until 8:30PM, people gather at Circuit Event Grounds Makati for the big Earth Hour Philippines 2019 switch-off event. Photograph © Alo Lantin / WWF-PhilippinesMakati, March 30, 2019 – With the threats of plastic pollution and loss of nature plaguing the planet, thousands gathered at Circuit Event Grounds in Makati to participate in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines’ Earth Hour switch-off event.
This year’s Earth Hour saw the continuation of #Connect2Earth. Introduced last year, the theme serves as a public reminder of the importance of nature and that the loss of biodiversity is a threat to mankind. As nature declines like never before, coupled with the ever-present challenge of climate change, the WWF network hopes to raise awareness on why nature matters to inspire global action on conserving nature.
Since the first symbolic “lights out” event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment that has brought together individuals from all across the globe in committing to a healthy and sustainable future for all while addressing up-and-coming challenges to environmental integrity.
“On one hand, we have the moral responsibility to live in harmony with nature, on the other, nature is vitally important to everyone’s daily lives; we depend on it for the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink, and so much more. But we are pushing the planet to the limit and nature is severely under threat,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. “Earth Hour 2019 is a powerful opportunity to start an unstoppable movement for nature to help secure an international commitment to stop and reverse the loss of nature – a New Deal for Nature and People as comprehensive and ambitious as the global climate deal.”
In the Philippines, Earth Hour 2019 also shed light on the issue of plastic pollution and its significant impact to mankind and to the environment. “Earth Hour has been a social phenomenon for over a decade now. What started as a moment has become a movement as millions of people around the world have taken up the banner of climate action and environmental conservation. We’re now faced with all-new challenges and plastic pollution is one of them. With eight million tons of plastic entering our oceans every year, it’s impossible to ignore the problem. This year, we’re asking Filipinos to recognize and confront the threat of single-use plastics, especially since the Philippines is the third largest plastic polluter of oceans in the world,” said WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma.
Through its #AyokoNgPlastik movement, WWF-Philippines aims to create awareness on the dangers of single-use plastic, spark conversations, change mindsets and habits of consumers, urge businesses to operate more sustainably, and influence policy. This is aligned with the “No Plastic in Nature Initiative” of the WWF network, which seeks to stop plastics from entering nature through the elimination of unnecessary plastic, doubling reuse, recycling and recovery, and ensuring remaining plastic is sourced responsibly by 2030.
Earth Hour online and onsite highlights
Earth Hour 2019 was able to reach 188 countries and territories across the globe. Online, the hashtags #EarthHour and #Connect2Earth made an estimate of over 2 billion impressions, a massive increase compared to last year’s 3.5 million, and trended in 26 different countries including the Philippines.
For the local switch-off event, approximately 600 Filipino Scouts were mobilized at Circuit Event Grounds to take part in the activities including environmental education sessions by WWF-Philippines and its National Youth Council. They also recorded video pledges for the environment, which were shown during the main program that were led by WWF-Philippines Ambassadors Rovilson Fernandez, Marc Nelson, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworksi, and Andre Paras.
Pledges from supporters and partners were also delivered, including the written message from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. “More than just a symbolic gesture of turning off our lights, may this year’s Earth Hour become the spark that will awaken our sense of responsibility as stewards of nature and caretakers of its vast resources. I call on everyone to join this cause so we may preserve this world for the benefit of the succeeding generations,” said Duterte.
The event also introduced new WWF-Philippines advocates – Carina Dayondon, the first Filipina to summit the 7 highest mountains in the world, Ms. Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco, and child actress Xia Vigor. Richard Gutierrez, Sarah Lahbati, and Frankie Pangilinan were also unveiled as additions to the organization’s roster of celebrity ambassadors who have accepted the mandate to use their influence to enjoin Filipinos to embrace environmental stewardship for a thriving and living planet for the present and future generations.
Co-presented by Globe and supported by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, the main switch-off event featured performances by Abraham Lane, the FEU Bamboo Band, Princess Velasco, Frankie Pangilinan with Luis Villanueva, and Talahib People’s Music. Attendees got to enjoy a sustainable shopping experience courtesy of Old Manila Eco-Market and free drinks from official hydration partners Summit Still & Sparkling and Vitamilk. Other partners included foodpanda, Lick Iced Tea, Corkcicle, PNB, Landlite Philippines, McDonald’s, Starbucks, SSI Group Inc., the Philippine National Bank, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Quorn, Krispy Kreme, SaladStop!, and Thermos.
Earth Hour government and institution partners – Department of Interior and Local Governance, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, National Parks Development Committee, Department of Foreign Affairs, Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of National Defense, Department of Labor and Employment, National Economic and Development Authority, National Historic Commission of the Philippines, Makati Local Government Unit, Department of Finance, Laguna Lake Development Authority, and Climate Change Commission – all issued circulars urging their constituents to support WWF-Philippines’ Earth Hour celebration.
Official media partners ANC, ANCX, BusinessWorld, Radyo Veritas, WhenInManila.Com, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, Net 25, Pinas FM, Radyo Agila, eaglenews.ph, Our Awesome Planet, GMA, GMA News TV, RGMA, ComCo Southeast Asia, Globaltronics, Chalk, Myx, Tilt, CNN Philippines, Manila Bulletin, and BusinessMirror helped deliver and promote the message of Earth Hour across the Philippines.
Beyond the event at Circuit Makati, several schools, government facilities, and business establishments like malls and hotels also held their own Earth Hour activities and switch-off events in their communities across the country. Malacañang Palace and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines held their own switch-off events, while McDonald’s branches all across the nation switched off their iconic Golden Arches symbols in a sign of solidarity.
A New Deal for Nature and People
With the #AyokoNgPlastik movement and #Connect2Earth as the rallying banner, Earth Hour 2019 serves as an avenue for a national display of commitment to the protection and conservation of the planet. Earth Hour 2019 is a reminder that the human race stands at a pivotal point of needed change, as the impacts of changing climates and massive plastic pollution are felt across the globe.
“It’s becoming very clear today with everything that’s happening in the world – with water shortages and with storms growing in strength each and every year and with whales washing up on beaches with stomachs full of plastic – that the planet is changing all around us, and that we’ve played a major role in that. We only have a little over a decade to keep things from spiraling out of control. Change is needed and it is needed now, and we hope Earth Hour continues to be the force that brings us all together for the sake of the planet,” said WWF-Philippines Climate and Energy Head and Earth Hour Pilipinas National Director Atty. Gia Ibay.
Sarah Lahbati, Richard Gutierrez, and Frankie Pangilinan are officially introduced as WWF-Philippines’s new celebrity ambassadors who have committed to help build a future where everyone can live in harmony with nature. Photograph © Alo Lantin / WWF-Philippines