Residents from across the UAE came together on March 24th at 8:30 pm to express solidarity for protecting nature during Earth Hour 2018. Over 28,000 residents joined the movement and participated in Earth Hour in one way or another, either by signing up to protect the planet or by attending any of the three official events in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.
Additionally, around 200 organisations, hotels, and institutions held their own Earth Hour events to show their support. Dubbed as the largest environment event of the year, the movement started by WWF is officially represented in the UAE by the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF).
Now in its 11th year, the world’s largest grassroots movement started in Sydney as a symbolic lights out event and eventually grew to become an annual celebration. In 2008, the UAE became the first country in the Arab world to participate in Earth Hour. This year, Earth Hour chose to bring people together to "Connect2Earth" in order to raise awareness on biodiversity, its global decline and how individuals as well as organisations can contribute to its conservation. The initiative is the first step towards WWF’s three-year strategy of increasing general awareness on biodiversity around the world and highlighting its connection to climate change.
The official events included walkathons organised by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority and Environment and Protected Areas Authority Sharjah at Marasi Promenade, Dubai and Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah respectively. Additionally, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi hosted booths with various activities for participants. Landmarks across the UAE such as Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Burj Khalifa, Al Maqtaa Bridge, among others also decided to show their support for protecting nature, by switching off.
Although celebrated worldwide for an hour, Earth Hour is a symbol for a promise that involves commitment all year round to protect the planet. Small tweaks to daily routine such as reusing single-use plastic, using water responsibly, or adjusting air conditioners to be as little as two degrees warmer could collectively translate into a significant positive impact on the environment. Other changes include using energy efficient appliances or switching off electrical appliances when not in use.
Speaking on the occasion, Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director-General, EWS-WWF, said, "Earth Hour celebrations illustrate little drops making an ocean. The gathering of individual voices is what makes Earth Hour the incredible movement that it is today. Similarly, connecting to Earth is not only about a grand gesture for an hour, but it is also about the culmination of incremental changes throughout the year."
"It is crucial that individuals as well as organisations and hotels adopt these changes in order to contribute towards the sustainable UAE that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan envisioned. We share the planet with a wide variety of species that we benefit from, let us take Earth Hour as an opportunity to recognise and uphold humanity’s responsibility to ensure that the planet remains habitable for all plants and animals around the world."