Prince William launches five S$1.8 million environmental awards a year for each of next 10 years

Britain's Prince William has launched a multimillion-dollar global prize aimed at solving some of the world's greatest environmental problems. The Earthshot Prize will award five £1 million (S$1.8 million) prizes each year for the next 10 years.
Prince William's Earthshot Prize will present five £1 million awards each year for the next 10 years.
Prince William's Earthshot Prize will present five £1 million awards each year for the next 10 years.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's Prince William on Thursday (Oct 8) launched an environmental prize said to be the most prestigious 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 (S$1.8 million) awards each year for the next 10 years, to "incentivise change and help to repair our planet over the next 10 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,” Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, told BBC Radio 4 in an interview aired on 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”.

He added: “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 jury will include a host of high-profile global figures, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Australian actress Cate Blanchett, British naturalist David Attenborough and the Colombian singer Shakira.

"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."