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Prince William announces most prestigious environmental prize in history

PRINCE William is kick-starting 2020 with a new drive to dispel the current pessimism around the environment, and replace it with fresh optimism and action. Drawing inspiration from the concept of Moonshots, which since the moon landing in 1969 has become shorthand for the most ambitious and ground-breaking goals, Prince William announces The Earthshot Prize: an ambitious set of challenges initiating global, cross-sector action to repair the planet.

In what is set to be a ‘super year’ for the environment with crucial summits including the Convention on Biodiversity in China and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in the UK, Prince William will team up with global partners on a decade-long project that reaches every corner of the earth. The new initiative, which has been under development for over a year, will refocus global attention on finding answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet including: climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution and fresh water.

The Prize will encourage people to do more, to find new solutions that work on every level which will have a positive effect on environmental change and improve living standards globally, particularly for communities who are most at risk from climate change. By awarding innovation and transformational change the Prize aims to inspire collaborative projects that would not otherwise have been pursued, sparking a global movement that encourages governments, businesses and communities to prioritise environmental issues.

A set of unique challenges, rooted in science, will aim to generate new ways of thinking, as well as new technologies, systems, policies and solutions. Just as the Moonshot that John F. Kennedy proposed in the 1960s catalysed new technology such as the MRI scanner and satellite dishes, the Earthshots aim to launch their own tidal wave of ambition and innovation.

Crucially, the Earthshots aim to reward progress across all sectors of industry and society, not just technology. The Prize could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving these environmental challenges. In addition to a significant financial award, winners will receive large-scale public recognition for their work that will aim to inspire business and government collaboration and scaling.

With plans to formally launch the project later this year, intense work is already underway on this multimillion pound project. The Earthshot challenges will be announced in special events around the globe and an annual awards ceremony will take place in different cities across the world each year between 2021 and 2030.

According to Prince William, “The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. Remember the awe inspiring civilisations that we have built, the life-saving technology we have created, the fact that we have put a man on the moon. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth”

In a special film launching The Earthshot Prize, Sir David Attenborough said, “The spirit of the Moonshot can guide us today as we confront the serious challenges we face on earth. This year Prince William and a global alliance launch the most prestigious environment prize in history. The Earthshot Prize. A global prize designed to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers to think differently. Visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time.”

Colin Butfield, Executive Director, WWF noted, “Advances in science, technology and global communications mean we now know with astonishing detail what happens if we don’t reverse the damage to our planet. But what if we use those same advances to change direction? In just ten years we can go from fear to hope, from disaster to discovery and from inertia to inspiration. The Earthshot Prize challenges us all to make this the decade that we build a future to be proud of.”

Dr M Sanjayan, CEO, Conservation International shared, “We have a very small window – 10 years – to jolt earth onto a path of sustainability. It can sound terrifying – or it can sound like one of history’s greatest opportunities. Yes, the challenges are daunting. But how we react is still, in this sliver of time left, entirely up to us – and that is what the Earthshot Prize is all about. It’s about this opportunity in front of us, right now, to choose to put our energies towards taking action and uncovering solutions, to choose to create the future we want over settling for the one that we fear.”

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