On Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 p.m., as part of Earth Hour 2013, millions of people around the world will turn off their lights and reflect on the many gifts the planet has provided them. In the darkness, participants are asked to consider how much they rely upon the planet and how they can vow to protect it in the coming days, months and years. Around the world, countless cities, businesses, landmarks, colleges and individuals have promised to participate in Earth Hour and show their commitment to changing the world for the better.
The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with the support of 2.2 million locals and 2,100 businesses. By the next year, nations around the world began to take an interest in the campaign; 371 cities and towns in 35 countries participated in Earth Hour 2008. Since then, the event has only gained momentum. This year, more than 152 countries on all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica) have committed to participate in Earth Hour.
An important part of Earth Hour is the "I Will If You Will" campaign. This program encourages us to promise to make a change or sacrifice — like giving up meat for a month or cycling to work — if a certain number of people agree to do something for the Earth. For example, this year, European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said he will write and perform a song on stage if 1,000 people agree to stop using their cars for at least one week.
"By choosing to leave your car at home, you can make a huge contribution toward reducing CO2 emissions and energy consumption, as well as make the air we breathe cleaner," Potočnik said in an video.
There are many ways to help make the Earth a better place. ChildFund does its part to help the planet and its occupants by fighting child poverty in sustainable ways: training children and youth to become water watchers and eco-scouts, helping villages develop community water projects and vegetable gardens and implementing eco-friendly agricultural and farming practices among other projects. Today, we work in 31 countries to give hope to 17.8 million children and their family members because we believe that all children deserve the chance to live out their dreams.
If you want to help us in our mission to end child poverty, consider sponsoring a child. By donating $28 per month, you can help us ensure children around the world have access to basic health care, education and support services.