Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Earth Hour moving HQ to Singapore

EARTH Hour, a global climate change movement, is making Singapore its home.

The agency, which is behind the annual event that encourages people to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday evening of March, is moving out of its global headquarters in Sydney to come to these parts by May. And it will be

hiring people here to fill its ranks.

The group has eight members, four of whom will move here. It plans to recruit four full-timers here and more temporary staff for its events.

Earth Hour executive director and co-founder Andy Ridley said in a press conference at Ion Orchard yesterday that Singapore is well placed to move the campaign forward.

'Sydney is the most beautiful city and we'll be sad to move from there, but it's a long way from the rest of the world,' he said. 'Moving here makes total sense geographically.'

He added that Singapore is great for business and communications, and brilliant for digital work. It also has 'great people who can work for us', he said.

Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007. By last year, it had spread to more than 5,000 cities and towns across 135 countries, rapidly gaining traction in India, Indonesia, China, Latin America and the United States.

Its Singapore headquarters is expected to lead its outreach to businesses.

A key objective of the movement is to get people to go 'beyond the hour' in protecting the planet.

Its offices will be at Tanglin International Centre, located on the former grounds of the Ministry of Education in Kay Siang Road.

The building, now a dedicated space for non-profit groups, is already home to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Singapore Environment Council and Fauna & Flora International are expected to move in this year.

About 135 international non-profit organisations are now using Singapore as a regional or global base.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) aims to get 150 such international non-profit groups from all sectors here by 2015, creating 2,500 jobs in the process.

Mr Goh Chee Kiong, the EDB's director of clean technology, said at the press conference that Asia will play an increasingly major role in the 'global sustainability landscape' and Singapore will help to implement green initiatives in the region.

This year's Earth Hour takes place on March 31 at 8.30pm. The Singapore event will be in Orchard Road and organisers are hoping for a 6,000-strong turnout.

The campaign theme, revealed yesterday, is 'I Will If You Will'. It is aimed at encouraging people to make longer-term green pledges.

Former model and WWF Singapore's official Earth Hour ambassador Nadya Hutagalung, for example, has pledged to dive with sharks off southern Australia alongside Mr Ridley if 10,000 people pledge not to use plastic bags and straws for the rest of the year.