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Prince William's Earthshot Prize awards almost $7 million to environmental innovators

The Hill
The Hill
 2021-10-18
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Prince William and his wife Duchess Catherine revealed on Sunday the first-ever winners of the Earthshot Prize, which will award about $1.4 million to five different global initiatives that have advanced “cutting-edge environmental solutions” around the globe, according to the prize announcement.

The five winners ranged from the entire country of Costa Rica to a municipal program in Milan to several different startups, and were all selected due to “their groundbreaking solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet,” a news release from the prize said.

The Earthshot Prize Council, which included climate experts, actors and world leaders, selected the five winners from 15 finalists.

“Our five inspirational Winners show that everyone has a role to play in the global effort to repair our planet,” Prince William said in a statement. “We need businesses, leaders, innovators, and communities to take action. And, ultimately, we need all of us to demand that the solutions get the support they need. Because the success of our Winners is our collective, global Earthshot.”

Taking inspiration from former President Kennedy’s Moonshot program, Prince William launched the prize by focusing on five “Earthshots” — protect nature, clean the air, revive oceans, eliminate waste and fix the climate — which the Royal Foundation described as “simple but ambitious goals” that could improve lives worldwide if achieved by 2030.

The winners received their recognition virtually on Sunday via a global broadcast in London, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were accompanied by Sir David Attenborough, climate leader Christian Figueres, Brazilian footballer Dani Alves and a number of performers, including Ed Sheeran, according to the news release.

The “Protect and Restore Nature” Earthshot Prize went to the Republic of Costa Rica, for its policy that pays citizens to protect rainforests, the announcement said. Praising the Costa Rican people for having “reversed decades of deforestation,” the council said that the country has doubled the size of forests, while experiencing a boom in ecotourism that has contributed $4 billion to the economy.

Costa Rica will be using its prize money to help replicate its model in other countries, as well as protect the ocean, the news release said.

The “Clean our Air” Prize went to the New Delhi-based company Takachar, which has pioneered small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors and converts crop residues into fuels and fertilizers, while reducing emissions by up to 98 percent, the announcement said. With its award, Takachar is planning to expand its presence in rural communities around the world, with a goal of cutting a billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The “Revive our Oceans” Prize went to the Bahamian company Coral Vita, which has developed a way to grow coral on land — about 50 times faster than traditional methods — and replant it in the ocean, the news release said. Coral Vita will be using the added funds to establish a global network of coral farms, with an aim of growing a billion corals annually.

The “Build a Waste-free World” Prize went to Milan’s Food Waste Hub program, which recovers food from local supermarkets and restaurants — generating the equivalent of 260,000 extra meals for residents in need each year, according to the announcement. The city of Milan intends to use its winnings to help scale its initiative to other cities.

The “Fix our Climate” Prize went to the company AEM Electrolyser, which has roots in Thailand, Germany and Italy, and transforms renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas, the news release said. The firm will be using its prize money to help scale production, to make the purchase and installation of AEM Electrolysers more accessible.

Attenborough, a natural historian and BBC broadcaster, commended the prize winners and all 15 finalists for building global optimism by providing “innovative and brilliant solutions to the world’s challenges.”

“The natural world on which we entirely depend is declining at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the dinosaurs,” Attenborough said in a statement. “We know where this story is heading and we must now write a different ending. This is what The Earthshot Prize was created to achieve.”

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