ISLAMABAD: In the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Earth Hour marked a moment of solidarity for the planet as global communities united and organised digital events on Saturday.

Pakistan commemorated Earth Hour 2020 completely online and virtual events were observed in cities across the country.

To conserve energy and show commitment towards Earth, non-essential lights in homes and other buildings were switched off between 8:30pm to 9:30pm.

Through symbolic candle-lighting events, World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan’s goodwill ambassadors, environmentalists and citizens pledged their support for nature and people.

This Earth Hour provided a platform for online conversations about the loss of nature and ‘why nature matters’ to people.

The WWF said that with nature loss continuing unabated, Earth Hour 2020 drew attention to the immediate need to halt nature and biodiversity loss for human health and well-being.

The global moment came ahead of events where world leaders were scheduled to take critical decisions on nature, climate change and development. These have now been postponed.

WWF-Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives from the Covid-19 outbreak and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones or who are sick. In this hour of crisis, we acknowledge the need for urgent action and the need to unite now more than ever to safeguard our future and the future of our planet.

It is a time for solidarity and a time to respond to challenges more creatively and work more collaboratively, which is why Earth Hour is being marked through digital events across the globe.”

WWF’s goodwill ambassador Anoushay Ashraf said that people-led initiatives around the world like Earth Hour are vital to continue to inspire awareness on the importance of nature and prompt action to help deliver a nature-positive world by the end of the decade.

She added that it is important that the next generation connects to nature and values it. She urged people to unite and make a difference by changing their lifestyles.

“Citizens should believe in recycling, minimise use of plastics and manage energy and water resources wisely. The current coronavirus pandemic, massive Amazon rainforest fires and Australian bush fires call for an immediate action to reverse this huge loss,” she said.

Actor and WWF goodwill ambassador Ali Rehman in his message said that Earth Hour gives people an opportunity to go beyond the usual limitations and look at the bigger picture before them.

WWF maintained that nature is the lifeline for the 7.6 billion people inhabiting the planet.

Today nature is failing like never before. People are destroying natural systems they rely on for health and well-being faster than they can replenish themselves — jeopardising survival and existence. WWF also maintained that encroaching on wildlife habitats puts lives and ecosystems at greater risk.

Starting as a symbolic ‘lights out’ event in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become a mass movement exemplifying the power of people in driving seismic changes.

Earth Hour 2020 saw people from all across the globe raising their voices to invite action on pressing environmental issues in their countries.

Unprecedented digital events mobilised millions of people online to participate in Earth Hour as never before.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020