Members of the business community have supported Earth Hour for years. This support continues in 2021, however, in light of COVID-19, the Earth Hour global team is recommending businesses organize online/virtual events. Supporting Earth Hour starts with turning off your lights on March 27th from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Businesses can use their communication channels and platforms, to tell everyone why their organization is taking part in Earth Hour, they can share the official Earth Hour video, and they can post messages (using the hashtag #EarthHour). Some are live streaming events and running sustainability-focused workshops, others are putting forward special sustainability offerings and promotions. Some restaurants are creating special sustainable menus with plant-based foods. Some stores are showcasing environmentally friendly products and some coffee shops are giving discounts for people who bring their own reusable cups.
The Earth Hour team has created a video inspired by the Netflix series “Our Planet” titled “Our Planet: Our Business” which explores how the global business community can be a powerful force that drives action for nature.
The key to the success of Earth Hour is about going beyond the hour by supporting environmental activities throughout the year. Businesses need to commit to ongoing change that positively impacts the environment. Becoming a sustainable business is a long-term process. For the uninitiated here are a few simple commitments you can take to begin the journey:
- Turn off lights after office hours or install motion-sensor lighting
- Install energy saving lights bulbs and devices (e.g. timers on lighting)
- Minimize printing and photocopying
- Do not print emails unless absolutely necessary
- Turn off printers, computers, monitors, microwaves and coffee machines at the powerpoints/ electrical sockets at the end of the day or when unused for long periods (this could shave 5% off your electricity bills)
- Provide and encourage staff to use recycling facilities and compost areas for food waste
- Connect with WWF in your country and ask them how they help business, industries and groups to change their practices to be more sustainable, and what practices you can adopt
- Send out a company-wide internal communication about taking a stand for nature by signing the petition on Voice for the Planet (earthhour.org/voice)
The Earth Hour team has advanced ten steps to help businesses on further their journeys towards stewardship and sustainable transformation:
1. Know your impacts and business risks
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are among the most pressing environmental risks facing all sectors. A good place to start your sustainability journey is to using tools like the Natural Capital Protocol to assess environmental risks and dependencies and improve value chain management, or the enhanced WWF Water Risk Filter that enables companies and investors to assess and respond to water risk.
2. Set targets
Creating milestones and using standards will help demonstrate progress. A plethora of sustainability standards for commodities like timber, soy and palm oil enable companies to track progress on resource stewardship. This also ensures security of supply and attracts investment. WWF can help you to identify the standard that is right for you.
3. Collaborate with peers
This can improve efficiency and sustainability. Collaborating with others and participating in sectoral or cross-sectoral platforms such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the CEO Water Mandate have become common practice.
4. Embrace radical transparency
Transparency is key to achieve transformation at scale. Disclosing your company’s sustainability performance can create incentives for other companies in your sector to follow suit and support cross-sector collaboration for sustainability. There is also a lot of value in companies sharing the lessons learned through their sustainability journeys with peers and other stakeholders.
5. Define your purpose and gear business models for sustainability
A clear company purpose that drives business and sustainability can help customers to make informed choices and live more sustainably. Food, energy and water are critical resource challenges for any company, and offering sustainable products to customers has become standard practice for many. Plastic pollution is now receiving the attention it deserves, focusing attention on circular and regenerative business models.
6. Invest in nature
Looking across the landscapes where you source materials and energy, and investing in nature with others, can deliver transformative change. Reversing environmental decline often requires a landscape approach that looks beyond company and sector boundaries and addresses conservation and development.
7. Be an advocate for nature
Reaching and influencing decision-makers and billions of consumers are key in driving more sustainable behavior and addressing systemic challenges. But no organization can meet this challenge alone. Get involved by joining Business for Nature, a new global coalition uniting the business voice for nature. Having the courage to be a pioneer and using your authority and credibility can inspire others to advance social justice and sustainability.
8. Innovate for sustainability and deliver on the SDGs
Putting sustainability at the heart of innovation and using the SDGs to shape outcomes offer the best return on investment. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement provide a universal agenda for change with significant business opportunities. The SDGs could create 380 million jobs and unlock $12 trillion – but only through partnership.
9. Leverage new technology
Using new technology can support innovation and help meet milestones. New technology is helping leading companies to innovate and revolutionize supply chains. The Pacific Islands’ tuna industry, for example, is using blockchain to help stamp out illegal fishing and human rights abuse.
10. Ask for help
If you’re still not sure where to start please get in touch. The time to act is now. Whether you’re at the beginning of your sustainability journey or a business leader ready to spearhead innovation, accelerate sustainability and restore nature, WWF Global Partnership is ready to collaborate. You can read more examples on “Nature Means Business“, a WWF Corporate Partnerships publication.