Prince William urges society to ‘unite to repair planet' at first Earthshot awards

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© Ian Vogler Britain’s Prince William sits alongside children from The Heathlands School during a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens to take part in a Generation Earthshot event. AP

Britain’s Duke of Cambridge will call for society to “unite in repairing our planet” at the first awards ceremony for his environmental prize.

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will join a host of famous faces for the inaugural awards ceremony of the Earthshot Prize on Sunday.

The duke launched his ambitious prize to find solutions to the planet’s environmental problems and overcome the pessimism felt by many on its future.

Earthshot judges include broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett and singer Shakira – who will walk the green carpet at the event at Alexandra Palace, north London.

During the ceremony, in a short film recorded at the London Eye, the prince will say: “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.

“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.”

Earthshot Prize finalists – in pictures

Founded in 2020 by the UK’s Prince William, the Earthshot Prize claims to be ‘the most prestigious global environment prize in history’ and will award £50m ($68m) over 10 years. Finalist in the Protect and Restore Nature category – Pole Pole Foundation, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All photos: The Earthshot Prize Finalist in the Protect and Restore Nature category – The Republic of Costa Rica. Earthshot Prize organisers say the competition is designed to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next 10 years. Finalist in the Clean our Air category – Vinisha Umashankar, from India. Finalist in the Protect and Restore Nature category – Restor, from Switzerland. Pictured is founder Dr Thomas Crowther. Finalist in the Clean our Air category – The Blue Map App, from China. Pictured is app creator Ma Jun. Finalist in the Clean our Air category – Takachar, in India. Pictured is co-founder and chief executive CEO Vidyut Mohan. Finalist in the Revive our Oceans category – Coral vita, in the Bahamas. Pictured are co-founders Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher. Finalist in the Revive our Oceans category – Living Seawalls, in Australia. Dr Maria Vozzo from the Living Seawalls team conducts a biodiversity count on a series of the ‘habitat tiles’. Finalist in the Revive our Oceans category – Pristine Seas, USA. Pictured is founder Dr Enric Sala. Finalist in the Build a Waste-free World category – The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs. Finalist in the Build a Waste-free World category – Sanergy, in Kenya. Pictured is Sanergy co-founder David Auerbach. Finalist in the Build a Waste-free World category – WOTA BOX, from Japan. Pictured is WOTA BOX chief executive Yosuke Maeda. Finalist in the Fix our Climate category – Enapter’s AEM Electrolyser, in Thailand, Germany, and Italy. Pictured is Enapter co-founder Vaitea Cowan. Finalist in the Fix our Climate category – Reeddi Capsules, in Nigeria. Pictured is Reeddi founder and chief executive Olugbenga Olubanjo. Finalist in the Fix our Climate category – SOLshare’s SOLbazaar, in Bangladesh. Pictured is SOLshare co-founder and chief executive Dr Sebastian Groh.

Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and KSI will perform at the ceremony and actors Dame Emma Thompson, Emma Watson and David Oyelowo, as well as Liverpool FC and Egypt striker Mo Salah, will be handing out the awards.

The ceremony comes before the Cop26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, which is due to start on October 31 and which Queen Elizabeth II, the Cambridges, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will attend.

Speaking before the Earthshot ceremony, Charles said: “I am very proud of my son, William, for his growing commitment to the environment and the bold ambition of the Earthshot Prize.

“As a world, we need to come together to inspire, reimagine and build the sustainable future we so desperately need.

“Over the coming decade, with future generations in mind, the Earthshot Prize, and its inspirational nominees, will help us find the innovative solutions.

“In parallel, through my Terra Carta and Sustainable Markets Initiative, we will work to mobilise the trillions of dollars required to transition the global economy on to a more sustainable trajectory.

“Together, with all those who join us, we have a real opportunity to deliver a brighter future for humanity while restoring harmony between nature, people and planet.”

Last week, William criticised the latest trend in space tourism. “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said.

His comments, made during a BBC interview, were broadcast the day after Star Trek actor William Shatner made history by becoming the oldest person in space.

Shatner, 90, defended his space flight and said William had got the “wrong idea” and his adventure was a small step that could eventually lead to polluting industries moving off Earth.

William’s Earthshot Prize takes its inspiration from the Apollo Moon landings, nicknamed Moonshot, which helped advance mankind’s technological achievements.

It features five categories, or Earthshots – protect and restore nature; clean our air, revive our oceans; build a waste-free world and fix our climate – which organisers say if achieved by 2030 would improve life for all.

Every year from 2021 until the end of the decade, winners of the five Earthshots will each receive £1 million ($1.3m) to develop their projects.

The 15 finalists include a 14-year-old girl from India who designed a solar-powered ironing cart, the government of Costa Rica, which pioneered a project paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, and a Chinese app that allows its citizens to hold polluters to account.

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