Prince William is launching a big new ambition at the dawn of a new decade.
On Tuesday, the royal unveiled a multimillion-dollar international award to harness the best ideas for tackling the biggest environmental challenges in the world.
William, 37, has set his sights on spending the next decade rewarding visionaries and innovation. Called Earthshot, it will be awarded to five winners a year for the next decade, generating what William hopes will be 50 solutions by 2030.
“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,” William said in a statement. “Remember the awe inspiring civilizations 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. And the next 10 years presents us with one of our greatest tests: a decade of change to repair the earth.”
William has spent a great deal of time determining how he can help make a difference on the environment, and the idea for the prize has been in the works for about a year. He wants to “reframe the debate” and to talk about how issues can be countered, a royal source says. And he has spoken with his father Prince Charles and grandfather Prince Philip — the latter, a former international president of the World Wildlife Fund — as he formulated his idea.
The project, which will define much of William’s public work for the 2020s, aims to use the inspiration of the moon landings that ultimately spawned many other inventions that have helped humankind, such as CAT scans.
William’s Royal Foundation has launched the prize with a new video, narrated by leading wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, a longtime voice for the natural world and wildlife for decades. Among Attenborough’s recent work is the documentary Our Planet, which focuses on the climate crisis.
“The spirit of the Moonshot can guide us today as we confront the serious challenges we face on earth,” Attenborough says in the new video. “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.”
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More than 60 organizations and experts were consulted over the last 12 months about the project, as William hopes to bring together a coalition of scientists, economists, activists, governments and businesses to help harness the best ideas for possible reward. The first award ceremony will be in 2021.
Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, added in a statement, “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.”