“We’ll be able to look the next generation in the eye” were the words from Prince William at this year’s Earthshot+ event in Singapore held on 12th November 2023, the day after the third annual Earthshot awards ceremony that welcomed 15 nominees from around the world as well as a star-studded list of guests who walked the ‘green carpet’. Following in the footsteps of both the late Queen and the recently-crowned King, the heir to the throne has made it his decade-long mission to continue their work of championing environmental causes, but vows to “go further” than just patronage to make his vision of a sustainable world possible in a “critical decade for the Earth”.
Originating from President John F. Kennedy’s 1960s “Moonshot” ambition to get a man on the moon by the turn of the decade, Prince William was inspired to name his mission ‘Earthshot’ with the aim of uniting innovative individuals and organisations from across the globe to come together and offer solutions for repairing the world.
Five prize-winners each year are offered a £1 million investment in their projects, access to a network of like-minded individuals who can offer help to ensure their solutions are adopted, and a “global platform and profile” to share their journeys towards sustainable development. Founded in 2020 with an end signpost for 2030, over ten years the Earthshot mission will deliver £50 million investment to 50 sustainable projects over five different categories, each corresponding to one of the prize’s five goals for restoring the planet. These are:
To protect and restore nature: this goal is to ensure the natural world and all its species are protected. It aims to tackle deforestation, logging and mass land clearing as well as preserving wildlife and vital ecosystems which are essential for all human life. 2022 finalist Hutan, a wildlife research and conservation organisation in Malaysian Borneo, recognised the impact of human activities on endangered species within their forests through close monitoring over the past 25 years. Hutan was founded through concern for the ability of these species to navigate through the fragmented parts of their affected habitat safely. Today their team provides environmental education to local communities who coexist with these animals to empower them to protect these precious animals for generations to come.
Clean our air: to tackle the impact of human activity in the air we breathe. Urbanisation has led to an increase in fossil fuels emitting toxic fumes and worsening pollution. Solutions to this problem will be achieved with strategies promoting 100% renewable energy, clean energy, and better access to green transport links.
Revive our oceans: preservation of our coastlines, sustainable fishing practices and focus on marine animal conservation. A past winner of this award, Coral Vita, is a team based in the Bahamas who used new methods of growing coral fifty times faster than nature would be able to alone after the destruction of their local coral farm. A year after winning the most prestigious global prize for the environment in history, their team had already planted 6,000 new coral fragments and secured further funding with beer company, Corona, who match each donation made to the Coral Vita project.
Build a waste-free world: ‘reuse, repurpose, recycle’ for a world free from unnecessary food waste, single use plastic packaging and green space taken over by landfill sites. The city of Milan, Italy, was the 2021 winner of this award with its pledge to cut food waste. ‘The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs’ made them the first major city in the world with a food waste policy in place for all aspects of their society, from private businesses to schools and public agencies. Milan could now be seen as a blueprint for political agendas around the world wanting to work on reducing the amount of food going to waste.
Fix our climate: with 95% of children in a 2021 UNICEF survey admitting they are concerned about climate change, this is something which is affecting the younger generation more than most as concern for their futures grow.
Innovators will have to provide ideas to address issues, such as damaging greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent further global warming of the planet and protect against the threat of climate driven disasters.
The future King has now reached his third year of documenting this journey, and in doing so has begun to outline his key priorities for the leadership role he will one day inherit. By focusing his attention on a small number of projects that are close to his heart and the hearts of future generations, the Prince has shown that he shares our concerns and is willing to use his position of power to promote change.
However, some of you may be wondering whether a flight to Singapore is justifiable in terms of carbon footprint. ITV News Royal Correspondent Chris Ship reported that Palace aides and Earthshot organisers ‘acknowledge’ the impact that flying to these major cities has on the environment but argue the negative impact is more than offset by the dramatic changes and environmental solutions the prize promises to bring. The prizes have now been awarded in London, Boston, and Singapore, with ceremonies available to watch now via the BBC.
Image: Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash