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Date: Friday, 18 Apr 2014 00:00
A local woman on a road leading to Virunga National Park, near the provincial capital of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Kate Holt / WWF-UKNew York – Conservation organization WWF is issuing a call to UK oil company Soco International PLC to respond to allegations revealed tonight in a documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film, Virunga, debuted amidst rising tensions as the oil company prepares to begin seismic surveys, and after the shooting two days ago of the chief warden of Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, Emmanuel de Merode.

"This documentary raises important questions that Soco should answer urgently, as well as highlights why such a fragile and iconic place should not be subjected to oil exploration," said Zach Abraham, WWF International's Director of Global Campaigns who attended the films premiere. "In the documentary, de Merode states that 'any oil related activities are illegal' and contribute to the instability in the region."

"WWF calls on Soco to suspend plans for seismic testing and to withdraw from the park," said Abraham. "WWF believes the Congolese citizens that depend on Virunga National Park for their jobs and wellbeing deserve an explanation from Soco, as does the company's shareholders and the government of DRC."

"The claims put forward in this powerful documentary will likely intensify the widespread belief that Soco should stop immediately all activities in Virunga," Abraham said. "It is irresponsible for Soco to continue operating in the face of opposition from the UK government, UNESCO, the European Parliament, civil society and so many others."

In recent months protesters from across civil society have voiced firm opposition to Soco's operations, and some previously have reported threats and intimidation after speaking out against oil. Over 650,000 people worldwide have signed WWF's petition against Soco's oil exploration in Virunga National Park.

The World Heritage Site is home some extremely rare plants and animals, including about 200 of the 880 remaining critically endangered mountain gorillas. Pollution from oil exploitation could destroy the park's fragile habitats and contaminate the air, water and soil.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee on multiple occasions has condemned oil exploration in Virunga and called for the cancelation of all permits. During a visit to the park last month, two high level European diplomats said that oil production would be a major risk to the park's sensitive natural environment.

Soco is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is a component of the FTSE 250 Index.

TAKE ACTION NOW.
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 00:00
Belgian national Emmanuel de Merode has been chief warden of Virunga National Park since 2008. © Emmanuel De MerodeThe chief warden of Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, Emmanuel de Merode, has been shot in an ambush, according to a statement on the park's official website. The Belgian national is in "serious, but stable condition," the statement says. De Merode was attacked while travelling from the provincial capital of Goma to the park's headquarters yesterday, but no additional details are available.

"Emmanuel is a dedicated conservationist putting his life on the line every day to protect Virunga National Park, its rangers, its endangered species and the people that depend on the park for their livelihoods," said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Conservation at WWF International. "I know how much Emmanuel loves this park. He continues to be a source of inspiration to those around him and I wish him a swift recovery."

Virunga is Africa's oldest national park, founded in 1925, a World Heritage Site and a Ramsar wetland of international importance. It is the most biodiverse protected area in Africa, and one of the four parks in the world home to critically endangered mountain gorillas, of which only about 880 remain. Virunga recently reopened for gorilla treks after being closed during a period of conflict in the east of the country.
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Date: Sunday, 13 Apr 2014 00:00
WWF is calling for more investment in renewable energy and decrease investment in coal, oil and gas. © Kevin Schafer / WWF-CanonBerlin – WWF supports a call in a major UN scientific report released today that the world should more than triple investments in sustainable, safe low-carbon energy sources as the main measure to mitigate climate change.

The report, agreed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that the world should triple or quadruple investments in clean energy solutions. WWF goes further, saying that the overwhelming majority of new investments should be made in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The report finds that mitigation of climate change will have limited economic impact in the years ahead compared to the very significant costs of inaction. The report also finds that delaying actions to mitigate climate change will substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to lower emissions levels in the future.

WWF echoes the IPCC findings and renews its call for increased investments in renewable sources of energy.

"The longer we delay on tackling climate change, the harder the challenge becomes," said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's Global Climate & Energy Initiative. "Transforming the world's energy systems is now an urgent necessity if we are to avoid the dangerous impacts of global warming."



The IPCC report makes clear that immediate action on emissions is affordable and that delaying such action only further increases the costs. The energy sector is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is the key battleground for change.

"We know more effort is needed, and quickly. Delaying new mitigation efforts will make it much harder to transition the world's energy systems to a sustainable, equitable and low-emissions future," Smith said.

WWF concludes that the low-carbon emission scenarios proposed by the IPCC require that fossil fuels be left in the ground beginning now. This is both an investment and political challenge that must be met.

"Renewable energy can no longer be considered a niche market. Renewables must – and should – eventually take the full share of the global energy market within the next few decades," said Dr Stephan Singer, WWF director of global energy policy.

WWF is currently running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, that is calling for investments to be pulled out of fossil fuels and switched into renewable energy. In light of the IPCC report, WWF continues to believe that investments in renewable energy must be scaled up rapidly.
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Date: Friday, 11 Apr 2014 00:00
WWF highlighted the risk associated with betting on fossil fuels by setting up a mock casino outside the Estrel Convention Centre in Berlin, Germany where the IPCC is currently meeting.  © Dirk Lässig / WWF-GermanyAs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets on measures to reduce the impact of climate change, the answer to the global problem remains clear: The world must stop betting on a dirty fossil fuel energy system and should instead double-down on investment in clean, sustainable renewable energy.

While no easy task, the good news is that the shift is already beginning.

In a report released today, WWF details how action is being taken to promote renewable energy in countries around the world. The report -- Decarbonizing the Future: Seizing Power for Global Change -- demonstrates the solutions for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and holding global temperature increases below 2°C.

In India, a national action plan will result in up to 20 billion watts of grid-based solar power coming online by 2022 – accounting for close to 10% of India's total installed power generation capacity.

In China, where wind power is already generating more electricity than nuclear, Decarbonizing the Future shows how proven renewable energy technology could support over 80% of the country's growing power demand toward 2050.

In Norway, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund is evaluating the climate change impact of its coal, oil & gas investments.

In Mexico, a national program details specific sectors and cross-sector activities for each ministry in the public administration, including clean energy infrastructure and forest conservation.

In South Africa, where per capita emissions are higher than in China and India, WWF is working to help the old carbon economy become more efficient and productive using green economy strategies and building completely new sectors through low carbon technologies, infrastructure and systems.

"The clear message from the IPCC is that climate change is a massive risk that the world isn't doing enough to tackle. Changing the world's energy sector is central to the task of confronting that risk. We can't continue to gamble with the future of the world we depend on," said Dr Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy for WWF.

With renewable energy such a safe bet, why keep bluffing our way through taking real action on climate change? As Decarbonizing the Future shows, action on climate change is accessible, achievable and is already being taken.

WWF's Seize Your Power campaign calls on financial institutions to significantly increase their funding of renewable energy and cut funding to fossil fuels as a key means of tackling climate change. In the past year the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments.
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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 00:00
Many shark species are under threat from unsustainable consumption. © Wildlife Pictures/Jêrome Mallefet / WWF-CanonHong Kong - The volume of shark fin products imported into the city of Hong Kong in 2013 dropped by 34.7 percent, according to government data analysed by WWF. Statistics show that there was also a significant decline in the number of shark fins re-exported from Hong Kong to other locations.

Viet Nam overtook mainland China as the top destination for fins leaving Hong Kong, the city which accounts for over half of the global trade volume. While it is not illegal to consume shark fin in most places, many shark species are being hunted at highly unsustainable rates putting their futures at risk.

Recent trends indicate that shark fin, once perceived as a delicacy or an essential part of dinner banquets, may be no longer as socially acceptable as it once was. WWF has made significant progress in convincing caterers like hotel chains, and transporters like airlines, to stop carrying shark fins. Additionally, the Chinese government has banned shark fin at official state functions, which may be impacting demand for fins.

Famous Hong Kong wedding planner Tim Lau says, "Shark-free banquets have become more popular over the past two years. At least 20 per cent more wedding couples now choose shark-free banquets."

As of this month, 116 caterers have joined WWF's Alternative Shark Free Menu programme and168 corporations have taken the No Shark Fin Corporate Pledge.

Pledge that you are FINished with fins. Take action now for sharks!

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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 00:00
Polar Bear cubs in den, Svalbard, Norway. © Thor S. Larsen / Norwegian Polar InstituteEvery autumn, in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, polar bears build dens to give birth and nurse their young through the first days of life. Knowing how many cubs are born – and where their dens are located – is critical to understanding the status of the bears as they face a future of rapidly decreasing ice.

When the polar bears of Svalbard venture from their dens this year, a joint expedition of WWF-Canon and the Norwegian Polar Institute will be there to observe how the bears are adapting to changing sea ice conditions.

The WWF-Canon expedition comes only weeks after the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice was found to be at its fifth lowest level in the satellite record. A recently published paper also suggests that the Svalbard expedition area will be ice-free in summer by 2050.

"We don't know what the future holds for these bears," said Geoff York, WWF lead on polar bears. "We do know that bear populations deprived of sea ice for significant amounts of time are less likely to survive or breed successfully."

There is some evidence that the Svalbard population is moving away from traditional denning sites on the Norwegian islands. The bears need to be close to sea ice to hunt when they emerge from their dens. One possibility is that they are moving further east where the ice survives longer.

"For WWF, this is important work to understand how many cubs were born last winter and where they were born," said Gert Polet, an Arctic expert with WWF-Netherlands. "We want to see how polar bears use an area that is encountering such rapid change because of melting and shifting sea ice."

NPI researchers will place satellite collars on female bears so that they can track their travel over the next year. Comparing the position of the bears to satellite information about the sea ice will help explain how polar bears are responding to ice conditions and how they might adapt to future changes.

Four of the bears collared during the expedition can be followed on WWF's polar bear tracker as soon as the satellite collars are activated. The NPI and WWF-Canon expedition runs from April 11 through April 21 and can be followed at http://panda.org/svalbard

The expedition is sponsored by Canon Europe, Conservation Imaging Partner of WWF International. Canon has a longstanding partnership with WWF that goes back over sixteen years, using imaging expertise to help WWF record and promote awareness of the state of the environment and climate change. Canon is supplying photographic equipment for this project and sponsoring a leading Swedish wildlife photographer and Canon Ambassador, Brutus Östling, to capture images of the wildlife encountered along the way.
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 00:00
Cameroon © Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)Forests FSC certified for their sustainable management provide more benefits to communities than uncertified forests, according to a new study of Congo Basin logging concessions by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

"The evidence indicates that Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Congo Basin has been able to push logging companies toward remarkable social progress," says Paolo Cerutti, lead scientist from CIFOR.

Conducted in 2013-2014 across three Congo Basin countries—Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo—the WWF-supported study matched nine certified and nine noncertified concessions, or forest management units (FMUs) to compare how well they delivered social benefits to workers and communities.

The study looked at measures such as employee living and working conditions, equitable distribution of resources, social infrastructure such as schools and community buildings, and impacts on customary rights such as agriculture and hunting.

The study is the first of its kind to look specifically at social impacts of FSC certification in the Congo Basin, and highlights how communities benefit when logging companies pursue the level of responsible forest management required by and audited under FSC certification requirements.

The study found that FSC certified concessions establish more effective and better organized institutions for communication with communities and equitable financial support to development projects, in clear contrast to past and nearby uncertified forestry operations.

In light of the results of the Congo Basin research, WWF Forest Director Rod Taylor reaffirms WWF's commitment to investments in FSC certification. "This report confirms that FSC certification can drive logging companies to adopt more progressive social practices, and thus benefits communities living in and around certified logging concessions," says Taylor.

The study did not find significant differences between certified and noncertified concessions in terms of customary access to, and right to use forest resources within logging concessions (e.g. for agricultural use, hunting and gathering non-timber forest products). The study also highlighted a need to ensure that the benefits of certification for communities are sustained.

According to the study, the delivery of social benefits would be further improved if logging companies, certifying bodies and the FSC put more effort into establishing clear, written procedures for conflict resolution, improved monitoring of performance against social benchmarks and provided better career planning to make the logging industry a more attractive employment sector.

The Forest Stewardship Council has been operating since 1994, with the first certification in the Congo Basin achieved in 2005 and currently some 4.3 million ha of natural tropical forest under FSC certification. Still, this represents only about 10 per cent of all logging concessions in the region.

While there is an unquestionable need for formal protection of a representative portion of the region's and the world's most socially and environmentally important forests, the majority of the world's forests will remain outside of protected areas. Well-managed selective logging concessions can buffer protected areas, support healthy populations of rare or endangered species and benefit people.

Responsible forestry, including both intensive commercial management and community forestry, has a key role to play in conserving global biodiversity, preventing illegal logging and providing economic and social benefits to society.

For more information, visit the CIFOR website at www.cifor.org/fsc or contact Cari Beth Head, GFTN Communications Specialist, at cari.head@wwfus.org.
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 00:00
Mountain gorilla visits generate money for local communities. © naturepl.com/Bruce Davidson / WWFThe three countries home to mountain gorillas have agreed on new measures to conserve the critically endangered animals, and to maximize the economic benefits they bring to local communities.

National park officials from Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have renewed their joint commitment to protect gorilla habitat spanning their shared borders, and recognized the importance of attracting tourists for lucrative gorilla treks.

Mountain gorillas are the only type of great ape in the world that are experiencing an increase in number, yet only about 880 individuals were counted at the last census. Gorilla family groups in each of the range countries have been habituated to the presence of people, and can be visited on carefully controlled tours.

"A portion of the revenue from gorilla tourism is shared with the communities surrounding the animals' habitats. This creates a strong incentive to protect the animals and the natural setting where they live," said David Greer, WWF's African great ape expert. "Visitors also spend money elsewhere during their trip, and that helps the national economy as a whole."

In Rwanda and Uganda the tourism industry, largely linked to mountain gorillas, accounts for about 8-9 percent of total gross domestic products, World Bank data shows. Gorilla tourism in DRC's Virunga National Park recently reopened after a period of instability wracked the region. An independent economic analysis of the park commissioned by WWF found that tourism in Virunga has the potential to reach an estimated value of US$235 million per year.

Alarmingly, 85 per cent of Virunga National Park has been allocated as oil concessions. Mountain gorilla habitat has been spared, but if oil extraction were to occur, the park's critical ecosystems and rare species could be put at risk, research indicates.

WWF strongly opposes the exploration plans of UK oil company Soco International PLC, which intends to start seismic testing in the park this month.

Tell Soco gorilla parks are no place for oil companies. Sign WWF's petition now.


WWF is a proud member of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition of WWF and Flora and Fauna International. Together we work closely with the governments of all three mountain gorilla range countries.
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Date: Friday, 04 Apr 2014 00:00
Seize Your Power © Global Warming Images / WWF-Canon(Oslo, Norway) – Norway announced today that it will increase investment in environmental projects, but fell short of setting an increased dollar amount specifically targeting the renewable energy sector. The move falls short of expectations of increased investment in renewables like wind and solar.

Although the government mandated the country's sovereign wealth fund to invest more in environmentally-related stocks, the directive does little to increase the actual impact of those investments with regard to renewable energy.

Norway announced that stock investments made by the fund will grow from approximately $5 billion to approximately $8.4 billion under the new mandate. This is despite recent announcements from the prime minster linking the fund's investment changes to action on climate change.

"WWF expected the government to deliver something big on the sovereign wealth fund, particularly in light of its failure to act elsewhere on climate change," says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway. "The government has raised ambition on the fund through its platform and the prime minister's statements. We and others supported that level of ambition but now we see it was an empty promise."

Last month, Norway announced that it would mandate the country's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest state fund, to invest in renewable energy. Today's announcement came amid expectations that Norway would extend the existing mandate from stocks to include infrastructure, in order to allow for the $838 billion fund to directly finance projects like solar and wind farms.

Norway's announcement comes at a time when any delay at a global scale can redefine the trajectory of climate change. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the tragic impacts that could accompany climate change. Next week, the same group of experts will meet in Berlin where it is expected they will say that changing global energy systems toward renewables is the main way to tackle the climate challenge.

"This was Norway's chance to deliver on climate change, the same week that world scientists have released their report on intense impacts of climate change," says Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF's Global Climate & Energy Initiative. "Norway knows what it has to do, and how to do it, but today's announcement doesn't reflect that."

While it was hoped that Norway would direct more money from the state fund toward renewable energy, today's move falls far short of expectations. A commitment of up to 5% of the fund toward renewables could have been a scale large enough to cause ripple effects on renewable energy investment around the world.

"Every decision Norway makes on this fund sends signals around the world," says Nina Jensen. "Norway can make a huge difference in the world, and this announcement falls short of meeting expectations of the people of Norway and of the world."

While Norway did not set aside a specific amount for renewable investment, today's directive requests the fund's manager, Norwegian Bank Investment Management, to review and report on the success of new investments made by the pension fund.
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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 00:00
Climate change impacts are at risk of exceeding our adaptation capabilities, finds new report © Petko TzvetkovYokohama, Japan – A UN climate impact report, released today, gives the clearest and most comprehensive evidence yet that the earth we call home is in deep trouble. It reinforces the sobering view that climate change is real, it's happening now and it's affecting the lives and the livelihoods of people as well as the sensitive ecosystems that sustain life.

This is the second in a series of four reports being prepared by the world's leading climate authorities in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It assesses the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of human and natural systems, the observed impacts and future risks of climate change, and the potential for and limits to adaptation.

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative says the report highlights, for the first time, the dramatic difference of impacts between a world where we act now to cut emissions, which now come mostly from using fossil fuels; and a world where we fail to act quickly and at scale.

"This report tells us that we have two clear choices: cut emissions now and invest in adaption - and have a world that has challenging and just barely manageable risks; or do nothing and face a world of devastating and unmanageable risks and impacts."

"The report makes it clear that we still have time to act. We can limit climate instability and adapt to some of the changes we see now. But without immediate and specific action, we are in danger of going far beyond the limits of adaptation. With this risk posed so clearly, we have to hope that the next IPCC report which is being released in Berlin in April, will provide us with strong statements on the solutions that we know exist," she says.

Despite the warnings given by the IPCC in its reports over the past 20 years - reinforced by the release of the report today - the gap between the science and what governments are doing remains huge, says Sandeep Chamling Rai, head of the WWF delegation to the meeting.

"The science is clear and the debate is over. Climate change is happening and humans are the major cause of emissions, driven mainly by our dependence on fossil fuels. This is driving global warming. This report sets out the impacts we already see, the risks we face in the future, and the opportunities to act. It has been accepted by the member governments of the IPCC. Now it is up to people to hold their governments to account, to get them to act purposefully and immediately," he says.

The risks of collective inaction are greatest for developing countries, says Chamling Rai. "All countries are vulnerable but developing countries have a greater sensitivity, with more people living in poverty and fewer resources to respond to climate disasters. We need to put in place those measures that will slow down warming and put us on a fair and just transition to a sustainable world. The report shows that ambitious emissions cuts now can reduce the risk of climate change in the second half of this century."

And the regional assessments – given in depth in this report – show with a great degree of certainty what the impacts will be in the key regions of the world.

""We now have a better understanding of how climate impacts will affect people and nature in different regions. International adaptation efforts need to be intensified to adequately respond to such varied impacts," says Chamling Rai.



1.Read the full IPCC WG2 report here
2.Read the IPCC media statement on the report here
3.Read the IPCC WG I report, The Physical Science Basis, here
4.Read the World Meteorological Office (WMO) Annual Climate Report 2014 here
5.Read the World Bank Turn Down the Heat report here


For further information, please contact:

Mandy Jean Woods (communications) mwoods@wwf.org.za
@mandyjeanwoods

 http://climate-energy.blogs.panda.org/

Visit our website: www.panda.org/climateandenergy
 
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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 00:00
The president of the ICJ rules an end to Japan's whaling program in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. © UN Photo/CIJ-ICJ/Frank van Beek. Courtesy of the ICJ.Gland, Switzerland – The International Court of Justice ruled today that Japan should immediately cease all whaling activities under its current scientific programme JARPA II. The decision is a major victory for whale protection efforts and a clear call for the end of hunting in the Southern Ocean.

The judgement in favour of Australia in the case against what Japan calls 'scientific whaling' came in a near unanimous ruling announced by the UN's highest court. The ruling upholds Australia's claim that Japanese whaling under its JARPA II program is in breach of its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

"The decision of the court will finally allow the purpose of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to be fulfilled," said Aimée Leslie, Global Cetacean and Marine Turtle Manager for WWF International. "Protecting whales in the Southern Ocean is essential to maintaining healthy whale populations around the world."

In the ruling, the court determined that Japan's programme was not designed to reach its stated objectives and that the special permits granted by Japan in connection to its whaling in the Southern Ocean are not for scientific research.

"Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or licence granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance of that programme," said Judge Peter Tomka in reading the decision.

As a result of the ruling, the Japanese government must end all whaling under their current programme in the Southern Ocean. The court's decision is binding and cannot be appealed.

"The ruling of the court deserves to be celebrated and demands to be observed," says Ghislaine Llewellyn, Conservation Manager for WWF-Australia. "Finally the unnecessary killing of whales in this critical whale feeding ground will stop."

The Australian government initiated legal proceedings against Japan in 2010. The case alleged that scientific whaling by Japan is a violation of the country's treaty obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling as well as other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment.

Commercial whaling was banned worldwide in 1986. The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica was declared a whale sanctuary eight years later. Despite these protections, Japan has hunted over 10,000 whales in the Southern Ocean since the moratorium was put in place.

"Today the world court decision has made the case for the enforcement of global agreements that protect biodiversity for generations to come," added Leslie.

In addition to whaling, Southern Ocean whales are under threat by commercial fishing of prey species, noise pollution, chemical spills, ship strikes, and climate change. The uncertainty around Southern Ocean whale population numbers increases the importance of a precautionary approach to their management.
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Date: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 00:00
Earth Hour 2014 Buenos Aires, Argentina © Fundacion Vida Silvestre ArgentinaEarth Hour set new records for participation across the globe in 2014, proving that the symbolic hour continues to gain strength and momentum in its eighth year.

Details continue to come in from events that spanned every continent, but it is already clear that millions of people were touched by this unifying movement. Already 162 countries have confirmed participation at Earth Hour events, with over 7,000 cities registering Earth Hour activities.

"It is always extraordinary to see cities and landmarks involved in Earth Hour, but in 2014 it's the stories and activities happening beyond the hour that show this event has evolved into a movement driven by the power of the crowd," said Andy Ridley, CEO and co-founder of Earth Hour.

"To have witnessed Earth Hour from Singapore, the home of this WWF-organized event, made a powerful impression on me," said WWF Director General-designate, Dr. Marco Lambertini. "To see people united in a single purpose of making our lifestyles less impactful on the planet inspired me immensely. Earth Hour sent people around the world a message that each of us has the power to make a difference."

The reach of Earth Hour deepens as the world grows increasingly connected. While the event regularly trends on social media, this year saw the launch of Earth Hour Blue. The new crowdfunding platform empowers people to use their voice, or their dollar, to support projects of their choice across the globe.

Earth Hour Blue participants pledged support for WWF projects in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Nepal, India, Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Canada and Colombia. The platform became a success even before Earth Hour started, with Singapore raising enough money to start new efforts to fight wildlife crime in Southeast Asia.

There were many highlights to Earth Hour events held across the globe:

- Celebrations began across the islands of New Zealand;

- The event's profile in Fiji was raised by a fundraising dinner hosted by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau;

- In Australia, the focus was on the challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef. Earth Hour was an opportunity to showcase the new documentary "Lights Out for the Reef";

- In Singapore, the global headquarters and home of Earth Hour, Spider-Man and the stars of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" – Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx – joined the crowd to remind each of us that we all have the power to make a difference;

- In China, attention was drawn to the need for "Blue Skies" and the importance of reducing air pollution and smog;

- As Earth Hour moved across the globe, lights were switched off at iconic locations such as the Bahá'í Lotus Temple in New Delhi and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. Events in India took on special significance as they marked the start of a project to educate children on the value of efficient energy while reducing the carbon footprints of 15,000 schools across the country;

- Across the UAE, participants marked the importance of switching to efficient lighting as the world's tallest building --- the Burj Khalifa --- and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque went dark;

- At the Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, Iran, the event helped bring attention to the issues facing the historic Zayanderud River;

- In Russia, the green light was given for the Kremlin and Red Square to turn off their lights. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin recorded a message from the International Space Station, reminding the world that while the planet looks amazing and beautiful from space, it also looks fragile;

- In Egypt, the Great Pyramids of Giza and other landmarks went dark;

- Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa marked the hour by going dark. Earlier this week, Cape Town was recognized as WWF's Global Earth Hour Capital 2014 for its pioneering efforts to fight climate change, giving the city additional reason to celebrate;

- Istanbul, Turkey marked an Earth Hour first when the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque) switched its lights off for the first time. The Hagia Sophia and the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia also participated;

- The UK enjoyed a live stream event featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor to the backdrop of lights going off across landmarks such Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abby;

- In Argentina, crowds gathered to celebrate both Earth Hour and the decision taken the day before to submit a Senate bill aimed at replacing existing water heating systems with efficient electric systems in 800,000 homes;

- The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro switched off as Victor Civita Square in São Paulo marked the official switch-off event in Brazil;

- Across the United States of America, many world-recognized landmarks --- including Times Square, the UN Headquarters, and the Empire State Building in New York --- marked Earth Hour;

- The final places to mark Earth Hour were Tahiti and the Cook Islands, significant as some of the places in the world most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

"Earth Hour is more than just this hour. Uniting behind a common purpose demonstrates that we can make a meaningful difference" explained Ridley. "For us, Earth Hour is an hour of inspiration, but beyond that, when you see the hour happening all over the world, you feel that a collective effort is collective power. You can make a big change, you can make a big difference."

For more Earth Hour 2014 images from around the world visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/earthhour_global
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Date: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 00:00
Xayaburi dam: fish swimming downstream impacts © WWF-Greater MekongBangkok, Thailand – Leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) today issued a joint declaration in opposition to on-going construction of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River mainstem, and called on the Thai government to cancel the Power Purchase Agreement relating to the controversial hydropower project.

The declaration, signed by 40 international and national NGOs and civil society groups, including International Rivers and WWF, comes ahead of this week's Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit, attended by heads of government from the four Lower Mekong countries. The summit will address challenges facing the Mekong River Basin and regional cooperation.

As the first dam to enter the MRC's consultation process, the Xayaburi project is a crucial test case for 10 other dams proposed for the Lower Mekong mainstem. The MRC process requires countries to jointly review projects proposed for the Mekong mainstem with an aim to reach consensus on whether they proceed or not.

"Cambodia and Viet Nam have never approved of the Xayaburi dam. Nevertheless, Laos is marching ahead with construction without agreement among its neighbours," said Kraisak Choonhavan, leading environmental activist and former Chairman of Thailand's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. "The Xayaburi project severely weakens the legitimacy of the MRC and threatens the health and productivity of the Mekong River and Delta, which could leave millions facing food insecurity. The Mekong Summit is the critical moment for Cambodia and Viet Nam to take a strong stance and make their concerns heard loud and clear before it's too late."

According to Pöyry, the Finnish consulting firm advising Laos on the dam engineering, a coffer dam - used to divert the river's flow away from the in-river construction site - will be built in the first quarter of 2015. This will be the first direct intervention in the river bed during the dry season, and will mark the start of major irreversible environmental impacts.

Thailand main consumer of energy produced by Xayaburi dam

Thailand is slated to be the prime consumer of the electricity produced by the $US3.8 billion Xayaburi dam, and a syndicate of six Thai banks is financing the project, despite the acute environmental and social costs, and the uncertainties surrounding the financial return of the project.

"It's not too late to stop this disastrous dam before irreversible harm occurs early next year," said Dr. Saranarat Oy Kanjanavanit, Secretary-General of Thailand's Green World Foundation. "Thailand must act responsibly and cancel its premature power purchase agreement until there is regional consensus on mainstem Mekong dams. And if the Thai banks reconsider their risk assessments, and value their international reputation and financial returns, they'd do well to pull out of this project."

One of the world's most damaging dams

In the joint declaration, the organizations recognise the Xayaburi project as one of the potentially most damaging dams currently under construction anywhere in the world, constituting the greatest transboundary threat to date to food security, sustainable development and regional cooperation in the Lower Mekong, and that the project's Environmental Impact Assessment does not meet any internationally-accepted standards.

Expert reviews of Xayaburi dam have identified serious gaps in data and weaknesses with the proposed fish passes for the mega dam, and confirmed the Xayaburi project will block part of the sediment flow, destabilising the river's ecosystem upon which farmers, fishers and many other economic sectors depend.

"Without the results of the on-going environmental studies, dam development on the lower Mekong mainstream is now largely guesswork," said Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Programme Director for International Rivers. "But Laos expects its neighbours to take a dangerous leap of faith and trust that the risks associated with this project will somehow be resolved while construction moves ahead. This dubious approach not only pre-empts the conclusions of the studies, but clearly contravenes international best practice."

The Lower Mekong, one of the world's last large untamed stretches of river, supports nearly 60 million people with its rich fisheries. In order for migratory fish to move up and down the river they would need swim through the dam via the proposed fish passages.

No proven solutions for mitigating Xayaburi dam's impacts

"There are no internationally accepted, technologically proven solutions for mitigating the Xayaburi dam's impacts on fish migrations and sediment flows," said Marc Goichot, Sustainable Hydropower Lead with WWF-Greater Mekong. "Resting the future of the Mekong on flawed analysis could have dire consequences for the livelihoods of millions of people living in the Mekong Basin."

The NGO coalition supports Viet Nam's official response to the MRC's consultation process on 15 April, 2011 in which Viet Nam strongly requested "that the decision on the Xayaburi hydropower project as well as all other planned hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstem be deferred for at least 10 years", a recommendation previously stated by the MRC's 2010 Environmental Assessment for proposed mainstem dams.

Progression and impacts of xayaburi dam construction from fmkellogg
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Date: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 00:00
Xayaburi dam: fish swimming downstream impacts © WWF-Greater MekongBangkok, Thailand – Leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) today issued a joint declaration in opposition to on-going construction of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River mainstem, and called on the Thai government to cancel the Power Purchase Agreement relating to the controversial hydropower project.

The declaration, signed by 39 international and national NGOs and civil society groups, including International Rivers and WWF, comes ahead of this week's Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit, attended by heads of government from the four Lower Mekong countries. The summit will address challenges facing the Mekong River Basin and regional cooperation.

As the first dam to enter the MRC's consultation process, the Xayaburi project is a crucial test case for 10 other dams proposed for the Lower Mekong mainstem. The MRC process requires countries to jointly review projects proposed for the Mekong mainstem with an aim to reach consensus on whether they proceed or not.

"Cambodia and Viet Nam have never approved of the Xayaburi dam. Nevertheless, Laos is marching ahead with construction without agreement among its neighbours," said Kraisak Choonhavan, leading environmental activist and former Chairman of Thailand's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. "The Xayaburi project severely weakens the legitimacy of the MRC and threatens the health and productivity of the Mekong River and Delta, which could leave millions facing food insecurity. The Mekong Summit is the critical moment for Cambodia and Viet Nam to take a strong stance and make their concerns heard loud and clear before it's too late."

According to Pöyry, the Finnish consulting firm advising Laos on the dam engineering, a coffer dam - used to divert the river's flow away from the in-river construction site - will be built in the first quarter of 2015. This will be the first direct intervention in the river bed during the dry season, and will mark the start of major irreversible environmental impacts.

Thailand main consumer of energy produced by Xayaburi dam

Thailand is slated to be the prime consumer of the electricity produced by the $US3.8 billion Xayaburi dam, and a syndicate of six Thai banks is financing the project, despite the acute environmental and social costs, and the uncertainties surrounding the financial return of the project.

"It's not too late to stop this disastrous dam before irreversible harm occurs early next year," said Dr. Saranarat Oy Kanjanavanit, Secretary-General of Thailand's Green World Foundation. "Thailand must act responsibly and cancel its premature power purchase agreement until there is regional consensus on mainstem Mekong dams. And if the Thai banks reconsider their risk assessments, and value their international reputation and financial returns, they'd do well to pull out of this project."

One of the world's most damaging dams

In the joint declaration, the organizations recognise the Xayaburi project as one of the potentially most damaging dams currently under construction anywhere in the world, constituting the greatest transboundary threat to date to food security, sustainable development and regional cooperation in the Lower Mekong, and that the project's Environmental Impact Assessment does not meet any internationally-accepted standards.

Expert reviews of Xayaburi dam have identified serious gaps in data and weaknesses with the proposed fish passes for the mega dam, and confirmed the Xayaburi project will block part of the sediment flow, destabilising the river's ecosystem upon which farmers, fishers and many other economic sectors depend.

"Without the results of the on-going environmental studies, dam development on the lower Mekong mainstream is now largely guesswork," said Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Programme Director for International Rivers. "But Laos expects its neighbours to take a dangerous leap of faith and trust that the risks associated with this project will somehow be resolved while construction moves ahead. This dubious approach not only pre-empts the conclusions of the studies, but clearly contravenes international best practice."

The Lower Mekong, one of the world's last large untamed stretches of river, supports nearly 60 million people with its rich fisheries. In order for migratory fish to move up and down the river they would need swim through the dam via the proposed fish passages.

No proven solutions for mitigating Xayaburi dam's impacts

"There are no internationally accepted, technologically proven solutions for mitigating the Xayaburi dam's impacts on fish migrations and sediment flows," said Marc Goichot, Sustainable Hydropower Lead with WWF-Greater Mekong. "Resting the future of the Mekong on flawed analysis could have dire consequences for the livelihoods of millions of people living in the Mekong Basin."

The NGO coalition supports Viet Nam's official response to the MRC's consultation process on 15 April, 2011 in which Viet Nam strongly requested "that the decision on the Xayaburi hydropower project as well as all other planned hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstem be deferred for at least 10 years", a recommendation previously stated by the MRC's 2010 Environmental Assessment for proposed mainstem dams.

Progression and impacts of xayaburi dam construction from fmkellogg
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Date: Saturday, 29 Mar 2014 00:00
Earth Hour 2014 celebrations with Spider-Man in Quezon City, Philippines © WWF-PhilippinesGland, Switzerland -- WWF's Earth Hour is moving across the globe with help from Spider-Man and millions of everyday super heroes participating in the world's largest celebration to protect the planet.

Now in its eighth year, the global movement organized by WWF is expected to be celebrated in over 160 countries and territories. By the simple act of turning off the lights, people around the world are recognizing the challenges that face our planet.

"Tonight, Earth Hour will be celebrated by every continent," said Andy Ridley, CEO and co­-founder of Earth Hour. "People in every corner of the world will be reaching across boundaries of culture, politics, race and religion to acknowledge the power we all have when we come together for this incredible planet."

Spider-Man gave extra support to this year's Earth Hour by swinging into the global flagship event hosted by WWF-Singapore. With Spider-Man's help, WWF is sending the message that each of us possesses the super human power to make positive change.

Spider-Man's support comes as Earth Hour shifts from a one-hour event to an everyday movement supporting activities that go beyond the hour. The movement will now focus on achieving critical environmental outcomes in vulnerable parts of the world including the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and the Amazon Rainforest.

"When the lights go off, let's remember Earth Hour is far more than an hour. There is a far bigger impact than the one hour event. We are here to celebrate that we all commit to going 'beyond the hour' in living greener lives," said Dr. Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General-designate.

The focus on outcomes is inspired by previous Earth Hour successes. Much more than just turning out the lights, Earth Hour advocacy has led to legislation in Russia to protect seas from oil pollution, the creation of a marine protected area in Argentina, and the world's first Earth Hour Forest in Uganda to fight against massive deforestation.

"Earth Hour and lights off is a powerful reminder that we can help to deliver the solutions towards creating a more sustainable future for the planet," said Ridley

With the launching of Earth Hour Blue, a new crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet, people are also being asked to use their power to back a project or add their voice to solution-based environmental projects. Current projects include an effort to build climate-smart boats for fisherman affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and support for indigenous communities in Colombia to help them live sustainably while preventing deforestation in the Amazon.

In Nepal, Earth Hour celebrations at Kathmandu's Swayambhunath Temple are being joined with an Earth Hour Blue crowdfunding project to provide clean biogas energy to villages in Nepal's Terai Arc. The project is being supported by Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield, who plays the superhero character in the upcoming film "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

"Let's remember throughout the year ahead what we have come here to celebrate – that each of us has the power to make a real difference in the world. Each of us can be a superhero for the planet," added Lambertini.

Other activities sparked by Earth Hour include a project by WWF-Nepal to work with 500,000 people to lead environmental change through its Generation Green Campaign. After the lights come back on at New Delhi's India Gate, WWF-India will go beyond the hour for children by supporting an education campaign for 15,000 schools across India to switch to more energy efficient practices.

The global sweep of major Earth Hour events began in New Zealand. As Earth Hour makes its way across the globe, Turkey's Sultan Ahmed Mosque — also known as the Blue Mosque — will turn off its lights for the first time. Many of the world's most recognizable landmarks will join WWF in raising the world's consciousness of global environmental issues by also turning out their lights when the clock hits 8:30 pm local time. Earth Hour will officially close on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

People are encouraged to use their power by backing a project or add their voice at www.earthhour.org and sharing their #EarthHour activities on Instagram.
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Date: Friday, 28 Mar 2014 00:00
We love cities banner © We love citiesVancouver, Canada – WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) has awarded Cape Town, South Africa the title Global Earth Hour Capital 2014.

The city is recognized for its ambition and pioneering actions to combat climate change in its effort to bolster quality of life for its citizens. Cape Town succeeds last year's winner Vancouver, Canada.

Cape Town stood out as a role model for the global South with a showcase of green programs and actions other cities can replicate. Cape Town also demonstrates how city strategies to reduce carbon development and battle climate change can also help tackle other development priorities such as food, energy and water security.

"Taking the baton from Vancouver as WWF's Global Earth Hour Capital 2014 is an exceptional honour for Cape Town and is international endorsement of our comprehensive efforts around sustainability," says Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town. "We are overjoyed that Cape Town has been selected from among so many great cities striving to create attractive, smart cities while tackling a multitude of urgent environmental and social challenges. We know we have a lot more work to do and the Earth Hour City Challenge is a great way for our city and our community to be inspired to continue moving forward."

The city has taken bold steps towards transitioning its energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy with its roll out of a solar water heating program. Community engagement on sustainability issues and strong progress with energy efficiency, especially a large-scale retrofitting program for its buildings stock, were other pioneering actions highlighted.

"With this week's forthcoming UN report on climate impacts and vulnerability, Cape Town serves as an excellent model of how a city in the global South can take urgent and concrete action on climate change, despite its country's dependence on fossil fuels," says David Miller, CEO and President of WWF Canada, host of the award ceremony.

"Our international leaders who have the responsibility to conclude an international climate agreement in Paris next year, must now provide the ambitious framework to help all cities and nations bring about climate action at the required scale and speed," adds Miller.

Over 160 cities from 14 countries joined the competition, more than double the participation from last year. This year, the jury paid particular attention to each city's level of ambition and innovation for low carbon development in relation to the local context.

The EHCC jury of experts selected Cape Town after a shortlist and final review of 14 city finalists. Finalists included Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Brussels Capital Region, Belgium; Chicago, United States; Coimbatore, India; Copenhagen, Denmark; Edmonton, Canada; Lappeenranta, Finland; Mexico City, Mexico; Monteria, Colombia; Muangklang, Thailand; Semarang, Indonesia; Seoul, South Korea; and Stockholm, Sweden.

"The increased number of city participants in the City Challenge reflects a strong demand by local communities to be recognised for their bold climate actions – and to step up action to reduce dependency on fossil fuels to secure the well-being of their citizens," says Carina Borgström-Hansson, WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge project lead.

"The EHCC initiative has once more shown how cities from across the world are willing to lead the transition to a renewable energy-based, sustainable future, and that such a transition can also help them meet other development challenges."

The City Challenge also invited people around the globe to voice their support for renewable energy, and for 33 green city finalists through the social media platform We Love Cities.

The online voting campaign collected more than 300,000 votes from people who truly love their cities and want to see them become more sustainable. Tied for first place were Medellin, Colombia and Khunhan, Thailand.

Both cities successfully engaged their citizens in contributing votes and online feedback, including hundreds of suggestions on how their lovable cities can be even more sustainable.

Following the award ceremony, finalist cities joined together in committing to WWF's Seize Your Power pledge calling for the redirection of investments from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources.

WWF worked closely with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in mobilizing cities to join the challenge. ICLEI provided the use of its carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) as the reporting platform for the initiative. The Swedish Postcode Lottery is the main financial partner.
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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 00:00
Women against oil exploration hold poster, Goma, DRC – Over 50 protestors assembled peacefully in the street Monday holding banners proclaiming "no to oil" in Virunga National Park. UK company Soco International PLC says it will begin seismic testing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) World Heritage Site next month.

Activists argue that oil exploitation could pose a threat to essential fishing and agricultural jobs, and could enflame conflicts in eastern DRC where peace has been achieved only recently.

Community groups appealed for greater investment to unlock the tourism potential of Africa's most biodiverse protected area, home to critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as for assistance to bolster the fishery and agricultural industries.

"Virunga National Park could be an engine for sustainable economic development for the country and future generations," civil society groups said in a written statement.

One woman who sells fish caught in Virunga's Lake Edward says her business has enabled her to afford an education she otherwise could not.

"We can't tolerate seeing oil activities destroying our source of income," she said. "What will we become without Lake Edward?"

"I've joined the protest because I want to add my voice to those of many of my brothers who live in fear regarding their future because of the oil project in Virunga National Park," the fish-seller said.

Asked if she was concerned about speaking out publically in protest she said, "I'm not afraid, because I defend my right- the right to a healthy environment."

Police on the scene of Monday's protest ensured participants were able to express safely their opposition to oil exploration in Virunga. The event's organizers noted that threats against some anti-oil activists have been recorded over the previous years.

A declaration issued at the protest complained that Soco did not provide communities with a sufficient amount of information about the risks of its operations, and that civil society views were not taken into account.

"The free, prior and informed consent of communities affected by oil activities in Virunga National Park has not been respected," according to the written statement, which goes on to request the cancelation of Soco's exploration permits.

STAND WITH VIRUNGA ACTIVISTS. TELL SOCO TO GET OUT NOW.
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 00:00
Dr Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General Designate, speaking with the press at the launch of WWF-Korea in Seoul © Gemma Parkes / WWFSeoul, Korea – WWF, the leading global conservation organization, has established an institutional presence in the Republic of Korea, marked by official ceremonies in the capital Seoul this week.

Following its work since 2000 to preserve the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, WWF has had phenomenal success across Korea with Earth Hour, WWF's global grassroots movement for the planet. To build on these successes, WWF has decided to open an office in the country.

"WWF is very excited to establish a presence in Korea, a country at the vanguard of digital and technological innovation, which has shown itself to be a regional and global leader in creating smart solutions for sustainable lifestyles," said Dr Marco Lambertini, WWF International's Director General Designate, attending the launch events in Seoul.

"This is a proud moment for Korea to welcome WWF on its shores. Korean people want to live well and sustainably, and be a part of the solution. Choosing cleaner energies, greener transport options, and consuming eco-friendly products like certified sustainable seafood, are all ways Korean people can and will make a difference," said Mr Yang In-Mo, Co-Chairperson of the WWF-Korea Board of Trustees.

WWF works globally to encourage sustainable consumption, to cut pollution and waste, to save biological diversity, and reduce people's impact on the natural world.

"The way Koreans have energetically and creatively embraced Earth Hour shows something of the potential for ideas, action and positive change here," said Mr Yang.

"WWF is grateful to the Korean government, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Yulchon Attorneys at Law, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, the global advertising company Cheil, and all our supporters and volunteers who have made this moment possible by believing in our mission and dreams. We look forward to working with you all in creating a future where people live in harmony with nature," said Dr Lambertini.
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 00:00
Singapore skyline, Earth Hour 2009 © CorbisFrom Thailand to Tahiti, Iran to Las Vegas and the International Space Station to Sudan - iconic monuments and moments are emerging for this year's upcoming Earth Hour, the global movement organised by WWF, to be held this Saturday at 8:30PM local time across the planet.

Where East meets West, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul will switch off for Earth Hour for the first time, alongside the Hagia Sophia and Bosphorous Bridge that connects Europe and Asia.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, Wat Arun Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, India Gate, the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa in Dubai, South Africa's Table Mountain, St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Buckingham Palace in London, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, Christ the Redeemer (statue) in Rio de Janeiro, The Angel of Independence in Mexico City, The Empire State Building and Times Square in New York City, Niagara Falls, Los Angeles International Airport, the Las Vegas Strip and more will join in the world's largest celebration for the planet to be held this Saturday March 29 at 8:30PM local time across the world.

"It is always extraordinary to see cities and landmarks involved in Earth Hour, but in 2014 it is the stories and activities happening beyond the hour that show this event has evolved into a movement driven by the power of the crowd," said Andy Ridley, CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour from the movement's home in Singapore.

The first major city to go dark will be Auckland in New Zealand where the Sky Tower will switch off, before Earth Hour moves to Australia where the movement began seven years ago.

A massive candle lit display on the lawn of Parliament House in Canberra will spell out, 'It's Lights Out For The Reef' as events across the country will screen a special documentary about the impact of climate change on the threatened natural wonder the Great Barrier Reef.

Earth Hour will then sweep across Asia, where a massive on-the-ground presence by the most digitally engaged Earth Hour teams in the world will see participants using their power for Earth Hour Blue, a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet raising support for solution based on the ground projects to deliver environmental outcomes.

Following the recent announcement that Spider-Man is the first Super Hero ambassador for Earth Hour, the cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be on hand to help to switch off the lights across Singapore's signature Marina Bay skyline as part of WWF-Singapore's flagship Earth Hour event.

Inspired to take the Super Hero theme for Earth Hour 2014 to another level, Kuwaiti athlete Refaei hopes to Base jump from the top of Olympia Mall where the main Earth Hour event will be happening in Kuwait. The base jumper, skydiver and wing suit pilot posted a photo to Instagram saying, "Cannot wait for this Saturday to be part of it and save the world".

For the second year running, Russia's Kremlin, the residence of the President, and Red Square will switch off for Earth Hour, as WWF-Russia calls on people across the globe to help support on the ground field projects to help save five key species living in the region, including the critically endangered Amur Leopard.

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin has also recorded a message from the International Space Station, reminding the world that whilst the planet looks amazing and beautiful from space, it also looks fragile and therefore people should do their part to protect it.

Showing that the movement reaches all corners of the globe, the biggest Earth Hour logo in history (2800 square meters) has been created in the city of Isfahan in Iran. An event in front of the Khaju Bridge in Isfahan will raise awareness about the plight of the famous Zayanderud River, where there has been no continuous water flow for the past few years due to climate change and inadequate water management.

Across to Europe, WWF-Belgium is enlisting the support of some of the country's best known bands, include Suarez, Hush Hush and Alek et les Japonaises, to play in the living rooms of 40 committed Earth Hour supporters who register their unplugged party online before the global celebration on March 29.

Since its inception in 2007, WWF's Earth Hour has become a movement mobilising people on environmental priorities across the world.

Last year alone saw thousands of Argentinians petition to pass a senate bill to create a Marine Protected Area 28 times the size of New York City, and WWF-Uganda began the fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month by creating the first 'Earth Hour Forest'. In 2012, Russians also petitioned to get legislative change protecting the country's seas from oil pollution and now are striving to protect an area of forest twice the size of France.

"These Earth Hour success stories illustrate the movement has become a global collaboration to show what can be achieved for the planet," said Ridley.

At the heart of the movement's digital growth is Indonesia, where Earth Hour has become a massive, year-round youth led movement enlisting the support of more than 1.5 million people across more than 31 cities in the country.

Creating simple and creative environmental actions through film, performances, social media and public gatherings, the teams promote environmental activities related to saving electricity, reduction in use of plastic, using less paper and tissue, planting more trees and using public transportation throughout the year.

From creative campaigns to acoustic concerts, cyclothons to candlelit marches, flash mobs to dance performances and tree planting to recycling drives – this year people from all walks of life are uniting to become Super Heroes for the Planet on the night to celebrate Earth Hour 2014 in an effort to drive global action to protect the planet.

Reggae artists in Jamaica will perform an acoustic concert for the second year running; and in Tahiti, where Earth Hour will end its epic journey across more than 150 countries and territories, 5000 people will gain entry to a massive acoustic concert at Stade Paster by handing in a piece of recyclable waste they've collected to avoid landfill.

The lights off event will take place on 29th of March at 8:30 PM local time across the globe; starting in New Zealand and ending in Tahiti.
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 00:00
Crowds hold candles during last year's Earth Hour celebrations in Seoul © Earth Hour KoreaSeoul, Korea – WWF, the leading global conservation organization, has established an institutional presence in the Republic of Korea, marked by official ceremonies in the capital Seoul this week.

Following its work since 2000 to preserve the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, WWF has had phenomenal success across Korea with Earth Hour, WWF's global grassroots movement for the planet. To build on these successes, WWF has decided to open an office in the country.

"WWF is very excited to establish a presence in Korea, a country at the vanguard of digital and technological innovation, which has shown itself to be a regional and global leader in creating smart solutions for sustainable lifestyles," said Dr Marco Lambertini, WWF International's Director General Designate, attending the launch events in Seoul.

"This is a proud moment for Korea to welcome WWF on its shores. Korean people want to live well and sustainably, and be a part of the solution. Choosing cleaner energies, greener transport options, and consuming eco-friendly products like certified sustainable seafood, are all ways Korean people can and will make a difference," said Mr Yang In-Mo, Co-Chairperson of the WWF-Korea Board of Trustees.

WWF works globally to encourage sustainable consumption, to cut pollution and waste, to save biological diversity, and reduce people's impact on the natural world.

"The way Koreans have energetically and creatively embraced Earth Hour shows something of the potential for ideas, action and positive change here," said Mr Yang.

"WWF is grateful to the Korean government, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Yulchon Attorneys at Law, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, the global advertising company Cheil, and all our supporters and volunteers who have made this moment possible by believing in our mission and dreams. We look forward to working with you all in creating a future where people live in harmony with nature," said Dr Lambertini.
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