This Saturday March 31st, millions of people around the world will observe “Earth Hour” at 8:30 p.m. As you’ll see in the awesome video below, people will turn off lights in cities around the world to demonstrate concerns about our planetary home and our fellow human beings.
This Sunday April 1, we will be just 80 days away from the most important opportunity in a generation to put our world onto the path towards a sustainable future – the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June. But it is going to take more than symbolic actions by our leaders meeting in Rio de Janeiro – and us – to change the status quo.
This year World Wildlife Fund – the organizer of Earth Hour – challenges all of us to “Go Beyond the Hour” with its “I Will if You Will” campaign. The idea is simple: We can show that “everyone has the power to change the world we live in” by challenging one another to take action. Some are going to extremes to inspire others, promising, for instance, to swim (inside a cage) with great white sharks if others will commit to simple tasks like recycling and saving energy.
Even Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax has gone out on a limb. He’s declared he will dye his mustache green tomorrow if 500 children pledge to turn off their lights.
In this video, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon makes explicit the link between Earth Hour and the UN’s initiative to stimulate major actions at Rio+20 to provide sustainable energy for the “20 percent of all humankind, who live with no access to electricity.”
The challenge is not only how to improve the well-being of millions of poor people, but also how to protect the natural systems which support all of us. The final statement from this week’s high-level Planet under Pressure conference in London, states clearly: “Without urgent action, we could face threats to water, food, biodiversity and other critical resources: these threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale.”
Last Spring, young people in the Arab world unleashed the new power of connectivity to help change systems that weren’t meeting their needs.
This year, we need to use social media to build upon the momentum of Earth Hour—to bring about an Earth Spring.
Young people, especially, need to stand up and say loud and clear to the world’s leaders, “I Will if You Will.”
The “I Will if You Will” campaign is exciting because it focuses on concrete doable actions, which is exactly what we’ll need in Rio: Tangible commitments that will help bring about a revolution for sustainability. As Sha Zukang, the UN official in charge of Rio+20, recently said, “we have enough paper.” We don’t need another lofty treaty, but practical, implementable pledges.” What NRDC wants to see coming out of Rio+20 is a “cloud of commitments” that uses this power of connectivity to make sure these promises are kept.
I hope you’ll join us. Turn your lights off on Saturday night and become part of what we hope will become a huge social media wave demanding that this June’s Earth Summit be truly transformative – a real start to a brighter future for people and the planet.