Prince William called for “all parts of society — to raise their ambition and unite in repairing our planet.”
Five climate change campaigners won £1m each of what reports describe as ‘the most prestigious global environment prize in history’.
The Earthshot Prize awards has been set up by the Duke of Cambridge through his Royal Foundation to reward individuals, organizations, or countries working to find solutions to the planet’s most pressing environmental problems over the next 10 years.
Apart from the money, the winners will also be backed by “professional and technical support” to scale up their innovations.
The first of these annual awards was held at a glitzy ceremony at Alexandra Palace, London. Prince William was joined by stars including Emma Watson, Dame Emma Thompson and David Oyelowo.
The judges panel, which comprised broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett and singer Shakira, chose the winners from a shortlist of 15.
Costa Rica picked up the award for restoration and protection of nature after it paid local citizens to protect and restore rainforests and local ecosystems. The prize committee said the scheme has already helped reverse decades of deforestation.
Indian organization Takachar’s innovation bagged the Clear Our Air award for creating a portable machine that attaches to tractors and reduces smoke emissions by up to 98% while converting the residue into fertilisers.
Bahamas based Coral Vita won the Revive Our Oceans award for its ingenious coral regrowth method of growing it first on land and then replanting it on depleted underwater reefs.
The Fix Our Climate award went to a Thai, German and Italian group for creating a AEM Electrolyser – a technology that turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. It scooped the prize under the Fix our Climate category.
Milan won the Build a Waste-free World accolade for its “Food Hubs” initiative that helps tackle food waste in the city by collecting unused food from restaurants and supermarkets and distributing it to the needy.
The different categories for the awards were based on the five UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — restoration and protection of nature, air cleanliness, ocean revival, waste-free living and climate action.
‘Unite in repairing our planet’
In a recorded message played at the ceremony, Prince William said: “We are alive in the most consequential time in human history — the actions we choose or choose not to take in the next 10 years will determine the fate of the planet for the next thousand.
“A decade doesn’t seem long, but humankind has an outstanding record of being able to solve the unsolvable.”
He continued: “Many of the answers are already out there… but we need everyone — from all parts of society — to raise their ambition and unite in repairing our planet.
“The future is ours to determine. And if we set our minds to it, nothing is impossible.”
Praising all 15 of the Earthshot finalists for giving the world hope, Attenborough said:
“The natural world on which we entirely depend is declining at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the dinosaurs.
“We know where this story is heading and we must now write a different ending. This is what The Earthshot Prize was created to achieve.
“The 15 Earthshot Prize Finalists tonight build optimism by finding innovative and brilliant solutions to the world’s challenges, and they give us hope, which, we are told, springs eternal.”
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