Earthshot £50m prizefund to inspire planet visionaries

Prince William and David Attenborough have joined forces to launch the Earthshot Prize [www.earthshotprize.org], which they say is “the most prestigious environment prize in history”.

Over the next 10 years, the prize will disburse a total of £50m ($65m; €55m) to visionaries who devise innovative solutions to some of the world’s gravest challenges.

“A global prize designed to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers to think differently,” Sir David, a natural historian and broadcaster, said.

“A decade of action to repair our planet.”

The Earthshot prize is named after Moonshot, US President John Kennedy’s seemingly impossible 1961 mission to put a man on the Moon within a decade.

It will make five awards of £1m each year between 2021 and 2030 in the following categories:

– Protect and restore nature

– Clean our air

– Revive our oceans

– Build a waste-free world

Fix our climate

Nominations, which open on 1 November, are not submitted directly but will be invited from more than 100 nominating partners around the world.

They include Earthshot’s Global Alliance, an “unprecedented” network of international organisations which share the Prize’s aims, as well as academic and non-profit groups. They will identify individuals, communities, businesses and organisations creating inspiring solutions to each of the five Earthshots.

Prince William and a celebrity-studded Prize Council will select the winners.

Every single one of us has a role to play in harnessing whatever opportunity we have

– Prince William

The prize is funded by six “founding partners”, some of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, including the foundations of former US presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Chinese businessman Jack Ma and the Aga Khan, the current imam of Nizari Ismailism, a denomination of Isma’ilism within Shia Islam.

Prince William said he hoped the awards would inject “positivity” into the approach to climate change.

“Young people no longer believe that change is too difficult,” he said in his first TED talk, devoted to the new initiative

“They’ve witnessed the world turn on its head. They believe that the climate crisis and the threat to our biodiversity deserves our full attention and ambition.

“And they’re right. So now is the time for each one of us to show leadership. Whether you’re a farmer in the US, a tech owner in China, a politician in Kenya, a banker in Britain, a fisherman in the Maldives, a community leader in Brazil, or a student in India. Every single one of us has a role to play in harnessing whatever opportunity we have.”

He said that while some people were motivated to act by a crisis, for many, “the incentive to act only comes when they believe that change is possible. That it isn’t a lost cause. If people really believe that these challenges – these Earthshots – are possible, just imagine all the potential we will unleash!”

Feature photo credit : World Bank / Simone D. McCourtie

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