Dermot O'Gorman March 23, 2012
In just over a week, thousands of cities across the globe will dim their lights at 8.30pm for an hour, joining in the world's largest voluntary environmental action: Earth Hour.
The growing importance of this global environmental action is reinforced by the unprecedented challenges our planet faces.
Our growing population is consuming at a rate that requires much more than one planet can provide. We are not living sustainably. Biodiversity is shrinking while our hunger for natural resources grows. Living beyond our planet's means is putting increased pressure on food security, water security and climate security.
WWF's mission is to build a future in which our populationcan live in harmony with nature. But organisations and governments cannot do this alone.
Earth Hour's growth from 2 million people in the city in which it all started, Sydney, in 2007, to hundreds of millions in more than 5000 cities across more than 130 countries and territories shows that individuals across the globe recognise the challenges our planet is facing.
This year we hope to see Earth Hour grow further, with new countries taking part and landmarks from Las Vegas, Times Square, the Brandenburg Gate and the Eiffel Tower to the Burj Khalifa and even the International Space Station committing to switch off for the planet.
But the real value of Earth Hour does not lie in its sheer scale. The real value is in individual, grassroots actions. When you consider the potential of hundreds of millions of people all making small changes, it gives us hope for the future of our planet.
Earth Hour is about much more than an hour of darkness, it is about people showing their commitment to sustainability and environmental action. It is about individuals moving beyond NGOs, governments and businesses to express their personal commitment to living more sustainably.
The outstanding Australians recognised in this year's WWF Earth Hour awards highlight the power of one person to make a difference. From indigenous communities making artworks that highlight the threat of unsustainable fishing practices, to school students planting wildlife corridors and protecting turtle nesting sites, the awards showcase a grassroots commitment to the environment that is truly uplifting.
It gives me hope for a better future for our planet.
Dermot O'Gorman is the chief executive of WWF Australia, which organises Earth Hour.