Earth Hour

Blog & News

15 March, 2017

Earth Hour Heroes (Part I)

by

2017 is a special year for the Earth Hour movement. As millions celebrate their love for the planet, we are also celebrating ten years of the movement and what we have achieved. Together, we have helped create lasting impact to protect forests, oceans, wildlife and communities from climate change and it has only been possible because of enthusiastic, driven and committed individuals who are Earth Hour’s biggest strength.

To mark our tenth anniversary, we are recognizing Earth Hour supporters around the world who, with no motivation other than 100 per cent pure passion for the cause, decided to be the heroes our planet needs to change climate change.

We start with Alan Bessen in Kazakhstan.

Alan Bessen, Earth Hour Kazakhstan

It was only recently that we learnt Alan was an economist by education. Being the force behind Earth Hour in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, we were convinced that the enthusiastic voice we heard over the phone and on emails was an environmentalist but Alan showed us that sometimes one’s passion can well be their vocation. Learning about Earth Hour from the media back in 2008, Alan wasted no time in writing to the president of Kazakhstan the very next year to encourage the country’s participation in what was growing to become a global environmental movement. Despite being rather quiet by nature, Alan was absolutely committed to the cause and did not hesitate to hold a press conference to explain Earth Hour to the people in Kazakhstan, also dispelling fears over a potential increase in crime during the lights out event (!). Today, Kazakhstan organizes a ‘National Day of forest planting’ every year because of Earth Hour and in 2017, the campaign will focus on cleaning and better conserving the water in Lake Aqkol, a precious natural resource for the country and local communities.

A few thousand miles south of Kazakhstan, we would like to introduce you to Abdul, the Earth Hour coordinator in Sri Lanka.

Abdul, second from right

Like Alan, Abdul had no connection with the environment sector before Earth Hour but the cause resonated with him instantly. He credits it to his geography tutor who he believes played an important role in making him and his fellow students aware of the importance of protecting the environment, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Mr Leonard Kumaragamagedara! Abdul has steered the Earth Hour movement in Sri Lanka to great heights, rallying support among schools, businesses, celebrities and even the president. There was a time most people laughed at Abdul when he said he would be asking fellow Sri Lankans, including the president to turn off the lights, and yet, since 2010, Sri Lanka has not missed a single Earth Hour. Today, seven years on, Abdul continues to be just as determined and is aiming to take the message of Earth Hour to ‘every person, every student and every corporate in Sri Lanka’.

Brunei Darussalam is another country that started celebrating Earth Hour in 2010. Introducing the movement in an oil-producing nation was no easy feat but Md Rimey, the Earth Hour coordinator on the ground, quite enjoys ‘extreme’ adventure sports and was eager to take on the challenge.

Rimey is not featured here but in his words, "It's about Their Future."

Working with communities, organizations and corporates, Rimey was able to spread awareness and action on climate change, also influencing national-level policy initiatives such as the Initial National Communication (INC) report submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Youth Energy Dialogue and Opportunity {re} Framing Energy White Paper for Brunei's Vision 2035.

Always leading by example, the Earth Hour team in Brunei is currently working on launching an e-platform that aims to create a small inter-connected community within Brunei to share and inspire others to lead environmental campaigns and initiatives.

It is true that inspiration can come in any form or shape. Six years ago, Eddy’s family thought he was crazy for turning off all the lights at home for Earth Hour but today, the 21-year old psychology student is the national coordinator for Earth Hour in the Dominican Republic.

Eddy, first from left

Keen to be a part of ‘something bigger’, Eddy has since mobilized thousands of people to take action on climate change, urging them to join the movement and understand that ‘small actions can cause big results’. In 2017, he hopes to ensure Earth Hour is celebrated across 11 of the country’s municipalities as people are encouraged to develop sustainable lifestyles. The team is also organizing a solar-powered concert and a youth rally on SDGs.

The soundtrack to our brand new video says ‘anybody’s got the power…we could be HEROES’ and with supporters like Alan, Abdul, Rimey and Eddy putting their soul and energy into changing climate change, we know those words to be absolutely 100 per cent true.

Inspired? Discover how YOU can do your part to help #ChangeClimateChange today by lending your voice to Planet Earth!