The Earth Hour City Challenge initiative celebrates cities that are taking innovative actions towards creating greener, cleaner and more sustainable cities, while inspiring other cities to do the same. In 2013, Vancouver, Canada was named the first ever Global Earth Hour Capital, with New Delhi being in the running among the six finalists.
Of the 163 cities from the 14 countries that participated in the challenge this year, 34 have qualified as finalists. Among these, three Indian cities, Hyderabad, Cochin and Coimbatore, have made it to the finals, following a thorough assessment by an international jury of experts based on impact as well as vision towards achieving low carbon economy. One city per country will then be announced as the Global Earth Hour Capital in a ceremony on March 27 in Vancouver, Canada. These cities will also compete in a public campaign to select the city most deserving of the We Love Cities Award, to be presented in Vancouver.
The campaign will run for two months, starting Jan 17, and will be promoted via a common voting platform and social media. The objective of this public-driven campaign is to inspire and engage city communities and raise awareness for the progress being made in cities, as they strive to be a driving force in creating a sustainable future.
Web visitors are invited to vote for their favorites among the 34 finalist cities, and to share the favorite aspects of these cities via photos and videos. Visitors are also welcome to submit suggestions for how the cities can become even more sustainable.
WWF has worked closely with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, in mobilizing cities to join the challenge and enabling their reporting through carbon Cities Climate Registry (cCCR).
According to Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF-India, “These finalists are Indian cities that have already recognized the climate challenge and started to measure and report their emissions.”
“The Earth Hour City Challenge not only recognizes their initiatives by way of encouraging their movement towards low carbon development, but also promotes such development and innovative thought by city municipalities across the globe. Ultimately, the Challenge is not about having the most hi-tech plans, but about a commitment towards ensuring sustainable development in cities,” Worah said.
The three Indian cities in the running for the We Love Cities Award were short-listed based on their individual accomplishments.
In Coimbatore, these include the installation of solar cookers in municipal schools, the installation of LEDs and preparations for a 84MW solar power plant. The Cochin airport is the first in India to generate electricity through solar power for its daily operations, while the Waste to Energy (W2E) Project in Cochin is the first plant in India where municipal and industrial wastes are gasified to produce energy, used for power generation. In Hyderabad, measures such as providing tax rebates for green properties, the wide dissemination of environmental building guidelines and the introduction of mandatory energy auditing for buildings are some key steps towards sustainable development of the city.