23 June 2016, New Delhi: Rajkot has been declared the National Earth Hour Capital 2016 in WWF’s global Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) for its strong commitments across key areas, backed by strong low carbon actions and community engagement. Rajkot now joins the ranks of previous National Earth Hour capitals that include Thane, Coimbatore and New Delhi.
The WWF annual EHCC is a year-long competition that highlights and rewards cities for their substantial long-term efforts to combat climate change. Worldwide, cities that participate are recognized for their efforts in spreading the global movement to create more sustainable and resilient cities, and compete for the title of Global Earth Hour Capital. 125 cities from 21 countries participated in this year’s challenge, of which 11 were Indian cities. Pune and Coimbatore were declared finalists from India, along with Rajkot.
After an initial evaluation by WWF and global consultancy Accenture, a 17 member expert jury comprising leaders in urban sustainability appointed one city from each country as the National Earth Hour Capital and a Global Earth Hour Capital. While Paris has emerged as the Global Earth Hour Capital for this year, Rajkot was also in the run-up to bag the title alongside 17 National Earth Hour Capitals from across the world..
Rajkot was lauded for its strategies to drive sustainability efforts with focus on low carbon development, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Its strong focus on community engagement for sustainable development and adoption of renewable energy are among the key reasons for the city’s win. Some of the inspiring and noteworthy initiatives rolled out by Rajkot include the SMART Society Scheme – a scheme that works towards integrating community efforts for zero waste, emission reduction, energy saving and water management through a competition among housing societies. The Bus Rapid Transport System – the first phase of which has already been completed, energy efficient street lighting, innovative waste management practices and collaboration with regional and international programs are among the other significant initiatives.
Rajkot was also ranked 7th in the top 20 cleanest cities in the results of Clean India Mission survey by Government of India announced in January this year. It is also one of the solar cities of India.
WWF works closely with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability to mobilize cities to participate in the Earth Hour City Challenge. ICLEI assists cities in reporting their data on its carbonn Climate Registry platform.
On the occasion, Dr Jaiman Upadhyay, Hon’ble Mayor, Rajkot, remarked, “I am glad to know that Rajkot city has been selected as the national capital for India under global Earth Hour City Challenge 2015-16. Rajkot Municipal Corporation is on a continuous journey to align its activities as per the international standards in different sectors and we have achieved tremendous success by adopting and implementing various innovative and sustainable measures in our local practices. We are especially committed towards advancing and replicating our sustainable actions in transportation, waste management and renewable energy sectors. We hope to engage with WWF-India and ICLEI South Asia in future for these kinds of programmes and want to express our greatest interest in these efforts.”
Dr Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF-India, said, “Given the rapid pace of urbanisation in India, initiatives like EHCC can leverage this growth to mainstream climate change aspects in urban planning and policy making. The growing enthusiasm among cities in participating in this challenge each year bears testimony to the importance city governments are giving to this issue. The efforts by Rajkot are commendable in this regard and we congratulate the city on becoming this year’s National Earth Hour Capital.”
WWF-India is one of India’s leading conservation organizations with programmes and projects spread across the country. The organisation works towards the conservation of biodiversity, natural habitats and the reduction of humanity’s ecological footprint. The mission of WWF-India is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. To know more, log on to: www.wwfindia.org
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