Prince William launches £50 million Earthshot Prize

Prince William photographed in Peterborough, England, on July 16, 2020.

Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A £50 million ($64.54 million) prize focused on the environment was launched by Prince William on Thursday, with the Duke of Cambridge describing the next 10 years as “a critical decade for change.”

Dubbed “the most prestigious global environment prize in history,” the Earthshot Prize — the name is a reference to the “moon shot” space program associated with President John F. Kennedy — will select five winners a year between 2021 and 2030.

The prize itself will look to identify “evidence-based solutions to the biggest environmental problems the planet faces.” It will focus on five “Earthshots,” or aims: Protect and restore nature; clean our air; revive our oceans; build a waste-free world; and fix our climate.

One winner per category will be chosen every year, with each receiving £1 million. That money will be used to “support environmental and conservation projects that are agreed with the winners.”

Who’s eligible for the prize?

Nominations for the inaugural awards, which will take place in London next fall, open in November, with more than 100 “nominating partners” from around the world asked to put forward candidates.

According to the Earthshot website, those eligible for the award include “scientists, activists, economists, community projects, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Prince William said: “Time is of the essence, which is why we believe that this very ambitious global prize is the only way forward.”

Although formally launched today, plans for the prize were announced at the end of 2019 and Prince William, together with the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has been working on the scheme for two years.

The awards will be made by Prince William and an Earthshot Prize Council, with experts assisting the judges. The prize is also backed by an alliance of organizations including the WWF, Greenpeace, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Jack Ma Foundation and the Aga Khan Development Network.

Prince William is not the only member of the British royal family concerned with the environment. Just last month his father, Prince Charles, called for a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

Speaking on the opening day of Climate Week NYC, the heir apparent to the British throne said: “The borderless climate, biodiversity and health crises are all symptoms of a planet that has been pushed beyond its planetary boundaries.”

“Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for a green-blue recovery and a more sustainable and inclusive future,” he added.

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