When the lights switched off at 8.30pm on 28 March, it was our planet’s time to shine!
Earth Hour is the world’s biggest celebration for our amazing planet. Hundreds of millions of people from across the world join together in a symbolic and spectacular light-outs display.
It’s a brilliant reminder that together we can make change happen. And it gives us a chance to think about the small things we can do every day to help create a brighter future.
This year’s Earth Hour was no exception.
A record-breaking 162 countries showed their support for Earth Hour 2014, and we saw switch-offs from some of the world’s most iconic landmarks – including Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Table Mountain, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Times Square and even the International Space Station!
In the UK alone, we had the support of over 1,000 businesses and organisations, 200 landmarks (including Big Ben and Edinburgh Castle) and over 4,600 schools. Our “wish on a star” messaging captured the imaginations of 2.1 million children nationwide, and hundreds came to our Earth Hour workshops in our new building, the Living Planet Centre in Woking.
Pass the Panda
In the lead up to the big day we played a little game of pass-the-panda.
We sent 60 special Earth Hour pandas to people across the UK ahead of Earth Hour. The lucky recipients snapped a pic of themselves with their toy pandas before passing them on to others to do the same.
Participants included Stephen Fry and Jack Whitehall.
Those who didn't receive one of our pandas also got involved by creating their own panda selfies
Panda flash mob
We also had plenty going on to raise awareness and get people involved. We launched a Poster Design competition for young creatives, asking them to design an inspirational poster for Earth Hour which would feature in the ‘29 Posters for the Planet’ collection.
On the morning of the 28th you might even have spotted some of our dancing pandas along London’s Southbank as our panda flash mob took to our capital's streets!
Earth Hour Live
On the night, we live-streamed Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s exclusive performance in a special solar-powered light-up dress, as well as Dougie Poynter (from McFly) counting down to the switch-off.
One place we knew we needed to act urgently to avoid potentially devastating impacts was Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Well, last year we heard UK-based oil company Soco International was planning to explore for oil in this UNESCO World Heritage Site – Africa’s oldest national park and a treasured place that’s home to a quarter of the world’s remaining critically-endangered mountain gorillas.
Some places are just too precious to be exploited in this way, and we think Virunga is one of them.
Thousands of families in the eastern part of the DRC depend on Virunga – and Lake Edward, where the testing for oil was due to take place – for their livelihoods and food, too.
So,during the year, we launched a campaign calling on Soco to halt their plans to drill for oil in the park.
Thanks to the support of more than 765,000 people from across the world who signed our petition, we've already achieved a great outcome: we've convincing Soco to end its exploratory operations in Virunga. Soco also committed, in June, not to drill in Virunga unless the DRC Government and UNESCO (the UN agency with responsibility for World Heritage sites) agree that this would not be incompatible with World Heritage status – UNESCO have consistently maintained, for more than a decade, that oil exploration is ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with World Heritage status.
We believe that this outcome removed the most immediate threat of oil exploration from the park.
But we still need your help to keep this incredible place safe for good. With oil exploration permits still overlapping 85% of the park, we now need the DRC government to cancel all of these permits and to declare Virunga a ‘no-go’ area for oil and other destructive industries.
THE FUTURE FOR VIRUNGA
Soco's commitment to withdraw from Virunga is a victory for the people that depend directly on the park’s resources and a triumph for everyone who values the rare plants, animals and habitats the park was set up to protect.
Whilst we have received several assurances that the company have dismantled their operations, we continue to monitor the situation in the park. With the development of hydropower, sustainable fisheries and ecotourism industries, Virunga can have a prosperous and sustainable future.
Thank you for your support – and please join us in protecting more places like Virunga.
Rhinos in the Mara
Our first main appeal of the year focused on rhinos in the Maasai Mara.
Last year had been a horrific year for rhinos in Kenya and across Africa. And this year wasn’t looking any better - with 86 rhinos already having been killed for their horns by the time we launched our appeal.
WWF’s Greg Armfield witnessed first-hand the mission to notch and chip every rhino in the Maasai Mara. We hope this will boost the protection of this critically-endangered animal.
With the surge in demand for rhino horn, poachers are going to new lengths and using new methods to poach rhinos.
We’ve been working on the ground in Kenya with local conservation authorities to monitor rhino populations and help protect this generation – to ensure the future of the next one!
This year we stepped up a gear in our approach to climate change. And you were there every step of the way.
For the love of...
WWF - as part of the larger Climate Coalition - helped launch the 'For the love of…' campaign.
It focuses on the many things about your life that’ll be affected unless we tackle climate change.
Our coalition brings together over 100 organisations and 11 million people, including environment and development charities, unions, faith and belief, community and women’s groups.
So far thousands of you have signed up and told us what you love. Your passions include British summertime, bees, grandchildren, snowboarding and London.
We've also invited you to let us know exactly why you care. Here’s an example of the personal and passionate responses we’ve had. They provide an amazing insight into what climate change will affect:
Now is the time to act
Unless politicians know climate change is something we all care about, they won’t have the mandate to act.
This is the time for everyone to make their voices heard – to show our politicians that we do care, that this issue is really important to us. Because it affects the things we love most. Our children’s future. Our hobbies. Our passions. Our lifestyles. Our safety and wellbeing. We’re calling for action to tackle climate change, for the love of everything we hold dear!
London climate march
On Sunday 21 September, hundreds of thousands of people took part in the world’s biggest climate demonstration to put pressure on world leaders ahead of the UN climate summit.
From London to Santiago, and Paris to Nairobi, more than half a million people across the world took part in a global climate march to tell world leaders attending the climate summit that it’s time to take climate change seriously.
We aim to keep up international momentum around tackling the climate crisis in the run-up to a global deal being agreed in Paris in 2015.
Not only did this march send a loud and clear signal to politicians that they must take urgent action, it also demonstrated that together we can protect our planet and the things we love.
We have a long and important road ahead of us, but with the fantastic turnout for the marches, we know we’re not in this fight alone.
Thank you to everyone who showed their support and helped us make history!
Now you've marched tell us why you care about climate change.
This year our group of event fundraisers - Team Panda - collectively ran, cycled and swam more miles than ever before!
The team is the biggest its ever been. And by committing their time and effort into training and fundraising these amazing supporters raised more than £425,000 to help protect our beautiful planet.
We’d like to thank each and every one of you who’ve gone to such great efforts to support us. Here’s a selection of our most memorable events from 2014.
This team has grown from 7 to 120 people in just one year! The Brighton Marathon started our year with a bang. Pandas took over Brighton, including a bonkers flash mob and a huge Panda-branded bridge that let everyone know exactly who was in town.
The event was an amazing day, with perfect weather. We had runners dressed in panda ears and even a panda onesie to really stand out from the crowd and fly the flag for WWF. This marathon is one of the most picturesque, with incredible coastal views and a true community spirit from all the crowds – it’s one not to be missed!
We welcomed runners back to a post-marathon party with a relaxing massage and a chance to reflect on their amazing achievement.
There’s still time to join the 2015 team… signup today!
The following weekend we headed to the Virgin Money London Marathon. This was our biggest team yet at this iconic event, where we had the honour of running the same course as Mo Farah!
This event is like no other… the crowds are huge, London is electric and you get to run past some of the most famous landmarks in the capital. Seeing all our runners past mile 23 and meeting many of them afterwards for some warm food and a massage was a great end to an unforgettable day.
We even had one amazing supporter who ran the entire marathon barefoot! After copious amounts of training and digging deep, Luke safely made it round the 26.2 miles and is currently considering what challenge to take on next!
In August, 115 brave cyclists took on the Prudential RideLondon 100 cycling challenge for us. This was far from the warm weekend we had at the marathon. The team battled the elements and came face to face with the tail end of Hurricane Bertha. It was a challenge of a lifetime, with huge amounts of rain and wind. But it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits!
The beautiful 100-mile Olympic course ran through London and Surrey, finishing in style on the Mall.
The day before this epic challenge, our events team got into the cycling mood and joined in cycling around an 8-mile closed roads event around London promoting Team Panda!
Go Team Panda!
We have also had teams taking on The Great North Run, Royal Parks, London2Brighton and many more challenges throughout the year. Not to mention loads of amazing unique fundraisers who entered themselves into events and chose to represent Team Panda, or organised their own challenges. Our supporters have organised cycling challenges across Europe, taken on Ironman triathlons and risen to many other extreme challenges. You are truly amazing!
We’re already taking entries to many challenges throughout 2015. We have a challenge to suit everyone!
Living PlANEt Report
The State of the Planet
For nearly two decades, our Living Planet Report has monitored the health of our planet.
This year we released the 10th edition of our flagship report. It demonstrated the urgent need for a united global effort to reduce our impact on the world.
It’s produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, the Water Footprint Network and the Global Footprint Network.
The report tracks thousands of species populations and measures how the way we all live our lives is affecting our environment.
Its findings reveal that:
- Wildlife populations worldwide have declined by 52% since 1970
- We’re living as though we have more than one planet at our disposal
- By taking more than nature can replenish, we’re jeopardising our own future
We’re cutting down trees more quickly than they can regrow. We’re harvesting more fish than the oceans can restock. We’re pumping water from our rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we’re emitting more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb.
We need a healthy planet for a stable future. This means we need to consume more wisely and produce less wastefully, to harness clean energy, to manage the world’s resources better and to halt the loss of our key habitats and species.
We've been working with partners around the globe to help us all start living within the natural limits of our planet.
We're working with a wide range of businesses, to help them minimise the impact of their industry. We’re also pushing world leaders to commit to a global agreement to tackle climate change, to create better policies to improve social development and to make stronger commitments to protect our planet’s most threatened places and species.
You can help, too. We can all make better choices about how we live and consume as individuals.
Stop forests being erased
Every two seconds an area of forest the size of a football pitch is destroyed. Yet here in the UK you can still buy furniture, books, cards and other products made from illegally or unsustainably sourced wood.
That's why - in December - we launched our Forest campaign - to say no to this nonsense.
More than 13,000 of you have signed up to show support for sustainable and legally sourced wood in the first month alone!
We need even more of you to add your name and help us prevent the destruction of our forests. Sign the petition below today.
ILLEGALLY SOURCED WOOD IS IN YOUR HOME!
It's likely every person in the UK has (or uses) products made with illegally logged timber.
On average, each of us consumes just under a tonne of timber a year. Anything from 10 to 20% of that could be illegal depending on where it’s coming from.
We're working to ensure that the wood you buy is sourced from sustainable and legal sources!
Naturalist and Dragon join Prince Charles in tackling forest destruction
On the 3rd December, Steve Backshall and Deborah Meaden joined His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to call on business to help protect the world’s forests from deforestation.
Since we launched the campaign in September, over 30 businesses - including Boots, B&Q, Argos and Morrisons - have publicly pledged to support the campaign and have committed to source all their wood-based products from legal and sustainable sources by 2020.
You might have noticed that things have got a little 'flippery' the closer we've got to Christmas.
2014 truly became the year of the penguin, owing - in no small part - to our partnership with John Lewis and its famous penguin: Monty!
We came together with John Lewis over Christmas time to raise awareness and funds for the work we’re doing in Antarctica to help protect the home of the Adélie penguin.
John Lewis wanted to highlight the challenges facing the Adélie penguin and its habitat by supporting our work in Antarctic. The Adélie penguin was core to both the John Lewis Christmas campaign and our Christmas appeal.
Their ad campaign helped us draw attention to the vital work we're doing in the Antarctic. As a result, we enjoyed a dramatic increase in penguin adoptions over November and December. The funds from these adoptions help us to safeguard the home of these iconic species.
In the lead up to Christmas we invited you all to take part in a #PenguinDanceBattle – and to film it, share it, and challenge your friends to do their own. It’s all helping to raise awareness of the daily battle penguins face for survival.
Dance like a penguin
How do you dance like a penguin? It's simple – there are only two rules:
1. Be as cool as ice
2. Dance like a penguin
A selection of the best so far.
The Antarctic is one of the largest remaining wildernesses on the planet. Wild animals are free to roam. But it's under threat from climate change and commercial fishing!
The Ends of the Earth
We also kept things polar in the lead up to the festive period with the launch of our Ends of the Earth appeal.
We’re working to show how climate change is putting the animals that inhabit both the Arctic and Antarctica in danger.
It's not too late to give to the campaign - donate today.