Prince William launches ‘most prestigious’ environment prize

Prince William hopes the prize will ‘galvanise and bring together the best minds’. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: Britain’s Prince William on Thursday launched the “most prestigious” environmental prize of all time, aimed at turning “pessimism into optimism” by rewarding innovative solutions to the planet’s biggest problems.

The Earthshot Prize will present five £1 million awards each year for the next 10 years, to “incentivise change and help to repair our planet over the next ten years,” said his office in London.

Kensington Palace described it as the “most prestigious global environment prize in history” and said it was inspired by US president John F Kennedy’s “Moonshot” project in the 1960s.

“We need to find solutions to be able to live our lives and enjoy our lives and not feel guilty and bad about some of the things we do,” the prince, who is second in line to the throne, told BBC Radio 4 in an interview aired Thursday.

“That ultimately has to change, because I also worry from a mental health point of view, the anxiety and the worry that many of these younger generations are going to have.”

He said he hopes the prize will “galvanise and bring together the best minds, the best possible solutions, to fixing and tackling some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges”.

“The next 10 years are a critical decade for change. Time is of the essence, which is why we believe that this very ambitious global prize is the only way forward.”

The project is centred around five “simple but ambitious” aims to be met by 2030: “protect and restore nature”, “clean our air”, “revive our oceans”, “build a waste-free world”, and “fix our climate”.

The prize is supported by a coalition of individuals, organisations and businesses with the winners to be announced each year at a ceremony in a different city around the globe, starting with London in 2021.

Prizes can be awarded to individuals or teams, whether they be scientists, activists, economists, governments, business leaders and even countries.

“The Earthshot Prize aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism that we can rise to the biggest challenges of our time,” said the palace.

“But the Prize is about much more than awarding achievement — it is a decade of action to… inspire people all over the world to work together to repair the planet.”

William praised his father Prince Charles for his long-running environmental campaigning, joking to the BBC: “I regularly wonder what my father’s banging on about. I’m sure every son thinks the same.

“But… he’s talked about this for a long time and long before people sort of cottoned on to climate change.

“So I’ve always listened to and learnt and believed in what he was saying.”