'Earth Hour 2021 critical moment to reverse nature loss'. Image Source: IANS News

Geneva, March 28 : As lights around the world turned off to mark Earth Hour 2021, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International has called for for urgent action to turn the tide and secure a nature-positive world by 2030.

This year's event, which took place at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday night, shines a spotlight on the perilous state of the planet, urging individuals, leaders and environmentalists to set nature on the path of recovery.

"This is the time to unite people, to speak up for nature," WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini told Xinhua news agency in an interview.

"This year is a particular year. We call it the 'super year' for nature and sustainability because leaders can and must take ambitious and decisive action both on climate and nature." Earth Hour is WWF's flagship global environmental movement.

Every year on the last Saturday of March, at 8.30 p.m. in their local times, millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories switch off the lights to show support for the planet.

Started 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 in more than 180 countries and territories to take tangible environmental action.

Lambertini also emphasised the scientific evidence pointing towards a close link between nature's destruction and rising incidences of infectious disease outbreaks like Covid-19.

"There has been new, shocking evidence about the condition of nature on the planet -- One million species driven to extinction, a two-thirds global decline in wildlife populations in less than 50 years, 90 per cent of fish stocks overfished in the ocean." However, he also said on a positive note that the pandemic had also led to a new awareness to better protect the environment.

Earth Hour comes ahead of key events when world leaders will take critical decisions on nature, climate change and sustainable development, setting the course of our future, the WWF said.

In May, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will be held in the city of Kunming, in China's Yunnan province.

"On climate, we have a clear goal... Our society needs to be carbon neutral and this is necessary to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, this is the Paris Agreement. We don't have the same for nature," Lambertini said.

"Kunming could be the Paris-style agreement for nature." 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.

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