The WWF people behind Earth Hour in Austria, Bulgaria and Ukraine



Posted on 19 March 2013  | 
Franko Petri
Franko Petri
© Katharina Rossboth / APAEnlarge
The world is using the equivalent of one and a half planets to support life on Earth. WWF's Earth Hour was born out of a hope that this could change. At 8.30pm on 23 March hundreds of millions of people will turn off their lights for one hour all across the world in a huge, symbolic show of support. Thousands of people in Central and Eastern Europe will take part in the event. With only four days to go, Franko Petri, Head of Communications at WWF Austria, Yana Sabeva, Head of Communications at WWF Bulgaria, and Katya Kurakina, Communications Officer at WWF in Ukraine, talk about their experience of organizing Earth Hour.

Franko Petri

Is this your first Earth Hour?
No, it is my seventh since 2007.

How big is Earth Hour in Austria? How many cities on average take part?
All provincial capitals and several communities and towns will take part this year. Altogether about 20.

How big is your Earth Hour team?
Only me, but with some help for the website from our marketing and web agency. And no volunteers.

Do you have celebrity “ambassadors” helping you this year?
Yes, several Federal Ministers, the Chancellor and the Federal President of Austria.

What would be the culmination of Earth Hour in your country this year?
Earth Hour itself!

What is your most favourite part in organizing Earth Hour?
This year we got on board 15 of the best 5-star hotels in Vienna. One of them has a suite for 20,000 Euro per night.

What is your least favourite part?
As I do this by myself, contacting all the politicians and mayors seems like very heavy work. And this needs to be done alongside all the other communications jobs and campaigns.

Where will you be at 8:30 on March 23rd?
I guess at a private party I will organize with some friends. We will be watching the imperial castle of Schönbrunn when the lights go off and will have a lot of drinks!

Yana Sabeva

Is this your first Earth Hour?
No, I have been working on this campaign since 2011.

How big is Earth Hour in Bulgaria? How many cities on average take part?
We already have close to 100. We are expecting more, many more than last year.

How big is your Earth Hour team?
There are three of us.

Do you have volunteers helping you this year?
Yes. They will support our corporate partnerships work. This year we have Earth Hour stalls in front of the Globul and IKEA buildings here in Sofia. They will also help our main Earth Hour event in Sofia on 23 March.

Do you have celebrity “ambassadors” helping you this year?
Yes – Kalin Velyov, Mihail Stefanov, Martin Zaimov, Julian Vergov, Vera Petkanchin. You can see their challenges on our website.

What would be the culmination of Earth Hour in your country this year?
On 23 March Earth Hour events will be held throughout the country.

What is your most favourite part in organizing Earth Hour?
To work for a cause like Earth Hour is in itself wonderful and it’s hard for me to say which is my favourie part.

What is your least favourite part?
There isn’t one.

What did you dare the world this year?
WWF on behalf of “For the Nature coalition” and Vera Petkanchin challenged Bulgarians to sign a petition in support of Pirin National Park.

Where will you be at 8:30 on March 23rd?
I will be at the square in front of Sofia’s National Theatre.

Katya Kurakina

Is this your first Earth Hour?
No, it's my 5th.

How big is Earth Hour in Ukraine? How many cities on average take part?
Earth Hour in Ukraine is growing every year - in 2012 we had 40 cities, so this year we hope to have at least the same or more.

How big is your Earth Hour team?
We have three people working, but very much part-time.

Do you have volunteers helping you this year? What do they do?
Yes, we have some volunteers who are helping us with the organization, collecting statistics, doing translations, helping at the events.

Do you have celebrity “ambassadors” helping you this year? 
We have Denis Silantiev – a well-know Ukrainian swimmer, European and World champion, and Olympic medalist. He made an “I will if you will challenge”: if 2000 people commit on the website to switch off for Earth Hour, he will repeat the mass physical exercises he has a world record on (11786 people did physical exercises together).

What would be the culmination of Earth Hour in your country this year?
The concert in Kiev with the famous Russian band ON-THE-GO and the Ukrainian bands Gorchitza and TAPE FLAKES.

What is your most favourite part in organizing Earth Hour?
My favourite part is social networking - it's really amazing to see how fast Earth Hour groups are growing.

What is your least favourite part?
My least favourite part is the preparation of the Earth Hour letters (up to 100 letters to cities) and also collecting a huge amount of media clippings. This is all a bit monotonous.

What did you dare the world this year?
Last year’s challenge was to cross-stitch a T-shirt for a lucky winner who registered to take part in Earth Hour. This year my challenge is to orgаnize Earth Hour in Ukraine with a nine-month old baby in my hands!

Where will you be at 8:30 on March 23rd?
Hopefully in the Odessa cafe "Clock face" where we will have a thematic Earth Hour evening.
Franko Petri
Franko Petri
© Katharina Rossboth / APA Enlarge
Yana Sabeva, WWF Bulgaria.
Yana Sabeva, WWF Bulgaria.
© Yana Sabeva Enlarge
Katya Kurakina, WWF Ukraine.
Katya Kurakina of WWF in Ukraine with baby Alexander.
© Katya Kurakina Enlarge

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