by Martina Fuchs
GENEVA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- As people around the world switch off lights on Saturday to mark this year's Earth Hour, the head of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International called for harmony with nature, reiterating the need to transition to clean and renewable energy.
"The main message continues to be that we need to rebalance our relationship with nature from today's destructive and unsustainable one to one in harmony and coexistence," WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini told Xinhua in a video interview. "We need to protect the amazing biodiversity of life on the planet."
Earth Hour is WWF's flagship global environmental movement. Every year on the last Saturday of March, at 8:30 p.m. according to their local times, millions of people switch off the lights to show support for the planet.
Born in Sydney in 2007, the initiative has grown into one of the world's largest grassroots campaigns for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations to take tangible environmental action. To date, more than 190 countries and territories have taken part in Earth Hour.
Lambertini also stressed that peace and protecting the environment go hand in hand: "Peace with each other is the foundation for our society to also be able to achieve peace with nature. The two together are the foundation for a safe and more equitable and prosperous future for all," he said, adding that "investing in conservation in nature is part of building a peaceful society, a future peaceful society."
Crucial United Nations biodiversity negotiations are currently taking place in Geneva on March 14-29 with delegates from more than 190 countries discussing a global strategy to help stem the tide of biodiversity loss.
It is the final opportunity for governments to negotiate on the once-in-a-decade global agreement before the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) scheduled to be held in Kunming, China, later this year.
"What has changed from perhaps the last negotiations on a global agreement on nature is that today, the evidence of our impact on the planet has never been clearer," Lambertini said.
Earlier this month, a WWF report revealed that the unambitious and limited draft global biodiversity agreement being negotiated by governments does not go far enough to reverse biodiversity loss, falling far short of their recent commitments to tackle the world's environmental crisis.
WWF's report "Bridging the Gap: Translating political commitments into an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework" assesses major international commitments which explicitly cover the negotiation of the global biodiversity agreement.
It found that, despite world leaders publicly committing to securing an ambitious and transformative global biodiversity agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, they have not yet collectively delivered on these promises in the negotiation room.
"This is an important moment. The negotiations in Geneva and the meeting that will be hosted in Kunming later in the year must see governments to agree on a Paris-style global agreement on nature and biodiversity like we had the Paris Agreement on climate," Lambertini said. "Kunming could be remembered for nature, as Paris is now remembered for climate."
The Paris Agreement reached in 2015 aims to tackle climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and sets a global target of keeping the rise in the average temperature no higher than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Asked about China's role, Lambertini said: "China as the president of COP15 has an incredibly important role to play in signalling the need to come together around the global plan and the global agreement for nature."
"China can play its fundamental role and I continue to be confident that they will deliver," he said.
WWF International, based in Gland, Switzerland, is an independent conservation organization with a global network active in nearly 100 countries and regions.
Its mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. ■