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Saturday, May 25, 2013
|Source: Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group|
Dare to save the planet
On Saturday March 31, at 8.30pm, many of Dubai's glittering lights will go out. For one hour, those with an environmental conscience will take part in the annual Earth Hour campaign by turning off all unnecessary lights to acknowledge the need to take global action on climate change. This year, however, many will challenge themselves to do more as part of the new I Will If You Will campaign.
For Earth Hour 2012, participants are encouraged to take their sustainability actions beyond the hour and combine their efforts via social media networks. People are encouraged to share a personal dare with the world by asking, "What are you willing to do to save the planet?"
I Will If You Will is a digital platform created by global advertising agency, Leo Burnett in collaboration with YouTube. This is the first time that Earth Hour organisers have gone beyond the annual lights out event to offer participants the chance to play a more active and substantial role in addressing environmental concerns.
Executive Director and Co-Founder Andy Ridley said, "Earth Hour's challenge is no longer to connect people; the challenge is to offer a reason to connect. Any movement of change begins with symbolism - it’s a needed step to prove enough people care about an issue. Earth Hour is past the beginning now, and lots of people are switching their lights off every year in March. We're now at the stage of taking it beyond the hour."
The concept of I Will If You Will makes Earth Hour personal. The idea is to encourage participants to create social contracts by setting themselves a united challenge. This can be anything that will have a positive impact on the environment from recycling and switching to energy efficient light bulbs to turning off your mobile phone charger or signing up for paperless banking.
In one challenge featured on the Earth Hour website, Elissa Sursara has promised to join the Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan to promote awareness of dolphin killing if 1000 people pledge to buy dolphin safe products. In another challenge, American singer-songwriter, Anthony Hamilton pledges to perform a three-song show live on Google Hangout if 2000 of his fans promise to recycle.
In the UAE, Oliver Kerr has sworn to refrain from speaking for two weeks if 10,000 people promise not to use their cars for one week. In another UAE challenge, Ali Al Saloom has promised that, if 10,000 people switch from plastic bags to eco-friendly bags then he will not use any of his three mobile phones for 72 hours.
The UAE first began taking part in Earth Hour in 2008 and since then the increasing popularity of the event has been apparent as more landmarks and residential areas plunge themselves into darkness each year. In 2011 all seven emirates saw official participation from key landmarks, including the Burj Khalifa, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Al Qasba and Fujeirah Fort.
Last year Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced that Earth Hour 2011 saved a record 204,000kW/h of electricity and 122,000 kg of carbon emissions. Festivities held in Burj Plaza attracted over 6,000 people and a similar event is planned to mark the cause for 2012.
This year, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF plans to make Earth Hour the biggest it has ever been in the UAE by getting more people involved in the global movement. Ida Tillisch, acting director general of EWS-WWF said, "We call on all UAE residents to participate in Earth Hour and in the I Will If You Will challenge. We all have the power to make a change. It is only through the collective action of every individual, business and government throughout the world that we can make an impact."
The first Earth Hour was held in 2007, when the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) joined forces with the Sydney Morning herald in a campaign that saw 2.2 million residents in Sydney switch off their lights. Since then, the event has grown to become the largest voluntary action for the environment.
Last year was the biggest event in the campaign’s history with an estimated reach of 1.8 billion people across the globe. A record 5,251 towns in 135 countries on all seven continents participated and the campaign's digital footprint grew to 91 million. This year, the organisers hope to achieve even greater numbers through the I Will If You Will campaign.
The Earth Hour YouTube platform features a global library of I Will If You Will challenges. Visit www.youtube.com/user/earthhour/iwiyw to post or join a challenge that will help protect the environment.
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