The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...
- WWF Global
- Central African Republic
- Central America
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- European Policy Office
Having the time to wander is quite a luxury in a modern, fast-paced city like Hong Kong. When Paris began rapidly urbanizing in the nineteenth century, the French poet Charles Baudelaire invented the figure of the flâneur, who wandered aimlessly through the streets, exploring the city; and then translated those walking experiences and feelings into fabulous works of art. These days, wandering is not limited to people with artistic motivations; more and more cities are promoting walking as a way of improving health and the environment.
The Walk to School campaign, run by the charity Living Streets, was launched in the UK in 1995 with a simple aim: to encourage parents to park their cars and walk their children to school. In forty countries, millions of schoolchildren and their parents now take part in this important low-carbon action: they walk to school at least once a week. The campaign also encourages children and parents alike to take part in Walk to School Week in May and Walk to School Month in October. According to a 2009 survey, one- fifth of pupils from participating schools reported that they started walking to school because of the campaign; over 65 percent of pupils surveyed walk with a family member to school, which shows that the campaign doesn’t just engage children, it allows other members of their families to take part in a meaningful parent-child low-carbon experience.
In Taiwan, a civic movement called the “Thousand-mile Trail” was launched in 2006 to build a natural walking and cycling path around the island within five years. Specially designed for pedestrians and cyclists, this 3,000 km continuous network of trails aims to make cycling and walking to school or work part of the daily routine for local people. The project has not only had a positive impact on the environment by reducing pollution, but has also provided an effective platform for social discussion and citizen engagement, and has promoted the appreciation of and conversation about the natural landscape and culture of the island. Since the project's launch in 2006, over 50 forums have been held in different municipalities, provincial and county cities across Taiwan. Major environmental issues discussed included environmental damage in rural areas, environmental trust, trail protection, light pollution, coastal protection and low-carbon transportation, among others. Government departments and local representatives were also invited to join in public policy discussions in order to realize the ideas and aspirations.
'To walk more' might not sound like a particularly revolutionary goal; however we must never underestimate the power of one simple action. Environmentalist John Francis, also known as the Planet Walker, has shown us how we can change the world, one step at a time.
This Indian-American witnessed the massive devastation caused by the 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay; at that moment he decided to stop using automobiles and began walking wherever he went. Later, he took a vow of silence that endured for 17 years. During those years, he walked across America and earned his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in science and environmental studies and a PhD in land resources along the way. Twenty-two years of walking and 17 years of silence weren’t just an environmental protest to raise public awareness, but a spiritual odyssey through which he rediscovered rhythms in nature and realized that fact that humans are part of the environment. He began to speak again on Earth Day, 1990. In 1991, the United Nations Environmental Program appointed him their Goodwill Ambassador, responsible for spreading green messages. He was also employed by the United States Coast Guard to work on legislation relating to management of oil spills.
Cities around the world have begun to discover the many benefits of walking, and are working to create safer and more pedestrian-friendly environments. Walking provides us with an excellent opportunity to appreciate the nature and to learn more about the local environment. These unique experiences cannot be found inside a sealed carriage but only through walking. Hong Kong's extensive transport network ensures quick and convenient travel around town. But in this bustling city it is very easy to forget to maintain our harmonious relationship with nature. Air pollution has always been a serious environmental concern for Hong Kong people. Motor vehicles are the main sources of high concentrations of respirable suspended particulates (RSPs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) at street level. Transportation is also the second large carbon emission source in Hong Kong. Walking reduces air pollution, carbon emissions and traffic congestion and moreover, it is also good for our health and for society in general.
This simple green action does not cost a cent, nor does it require any special equipment; walking can be done anywhere and anytime. This year the message of Earth Hour encouraged us to set our own energy saving targets and perform simple actions to make a difference to our energy consumption. So, without further ado, why not set your own walking goals? Take a short 10-15 minute walk; or if you need to take a longer journey, make use of a bicycle or take public transport. There is still much to be done to protect our environment; but little by little and step by step we will reach our goal.