The names of the 15 innovators in line for this years Earth-shot Prizes – the prestigious global environmental awards given in recognition to those finding solutions to what seem to be uncontrollable problems destroying our planet – have been released.
The five categories of: protect and restore nature; clean our air; revive our oceans; build a waste free world; and fix our climate by 2030, each receive three nominations and the winners will be announced during a swish ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts, on 2 December, with the Prince and Princess of Wales in attendance, as they rightly should be, as the huge initiate of individual appreciation and incentivised rewards for change, were the Prince’s brainchild, along with the nations treasure, Sir David Attenborough.
Over a thousand solutions put forward
Last year was the launch, which came after two years of hard work by Prince William and The Royal Foundation to develop a project which will support the global effort to protect and restore the environment. This year there has been a 30% increase in submitted solutions, with the numbers easily passing 1,000. The five eventual winners will receive $1 million grants to scale and accelerate the goals of their individual projects; with the guarantee of absolute support from the Earth-Shot network to massively raise their profile and receive a global platform to get their solution accepted, scaled, replicated, and adopted worldwide.
Tough selection criteria sees numbers whittled down
The 15 lucky “change-makers” had to go through some rigorous screening and their ideas faced intense scrutiny from an advisory panel, with the final decision to be made by the Earth-Shot Prize Council, including the Prince and Sir David, along with Queen Rania of Jordan, Cate Blanchett, Indra Nooyi, Jack Ma and several more.
William remains optimistic for planet recovery
Prince William, who is incredibly passionate about the entire process, praised the innovators, leaders, and visionaries amongst the Finalists, believing that they prove there are so many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the planet. He highlighted that their bold solutions were a key indicator that there was hope in amongst the environmental challenges, and that there is a path through to “healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come.”
Fitting US city for the ceremony
He also said he was delighted and excited to celebrate the fifteen Finalists and ultimately the five winners in Boston, which he pointed out was the home-town of President John F Kennedy, a man who shared The Earth-Shot Prize’s belief that all goals are within reach, irrespective of how impossible they may seem. If the limitless power of innovation, human ingenuity, and urgent optimism, is harnessed in the right way, anything is possible.
Earth at a crossroads and solutions needed urgently
The Prince’s vision when conceiving the scheme was for the people to understand that the earth is at a tipping point and the choices everyone is faced with are stark. Either continue irreparably damaging the planet, or call on our unique power as human beings, and our continual ability to lead, innovate, and problem-solve and that can mean that together, over the course of the next ten years, it will be possible to undertake our greatest of tests, in a decade of action to repair the Earth. He spoke of that vision in 2021, with a view to finding 50 world-changing solutions by 2030.
Inspiring others to join the fight is key
The Earth-Shot Prize is about much more than awarding innovation and individual achievement, as great as that may be; it is a decade of urgent action to convene the environmental world with funders and vital businesses to make maximum impact, whilst celebrating the people and places driving the change, which will hopefully inspire others along the way, as everyone comes together to try and fix the ailing planet.
UK hoping to land one of the prizes
Last year’s winners included an India-developed portable machine that turns agricultural waste into fertiliser; and a project in Costa Rica paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems.
This time around the UK have representation in the “Build a Waste-Free World” from Notpla Hard Material, with a seaweed and plant-based alternative to single-use plastic packaging, excitingly reducing landfill and ocean waste. The company has already created a million biodegradable food boxes for the online food ordering firm Just Eat.
Their competition comes from the City of Amerstrdam Circular Economy, which is a city-wide commitment to creating a circular economy by 2050 eradicating waste and celebrating recycling; and from India, Fleather, who propose cleaning the holy Ganges river of floral waste and transforming the by-product into floral leather, a clean alternative to animal or plastic varieties.
Fabulous ideas amongst all the other nominations
In the other four categories: “Protect and Restore Nature” will be contested by Desert Agricultural Transformationwho are a Chinese and Hong Kong team transforming the barren desert into arable farm land; with Kheyti Greenhouse in a Box, an Indian startup supporting farmers with literalyy a greenhouse-in-a-Box and Hutan from Malaysia, who are a conservation organization looking to protect endangered orangutans, and other wildlife.
The “Clean Our Air” have Mukuru Clean Stoves from Kenya, who distribute cleaner-burning stoves to the Kenyan women; Hong Kong based The Ampd Enertainer, an electric battery energy storage system powering construction sites; and Roam a joint Sweden and Kenya initiative, producing electric vehicles in Africa, to battle it out between the three of them.
“Revive Our Oceans” sees SeaForester a joint venture from Portugal and Norway who promote a breakthrough tool using “green gravel” to grow seaweed and restore undersea forests, take on The Great Bubble Barrier from the Netherlands, with their extraordinary technology that pumps out a curtain of bubbles, pushing harmful plastics to the water’s surface; and Australia’s Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef who are women rangers trained to protect critical ecosystems on land and sea.
Another UK representative is competing for the “Fix Our Climate” award. Low Carbon Materials is designed to reduce CO2 emissions across construction zones and make concrete blocks carbon-zero. Against them are Lanzatech a combined US and New Zealand initiative that recycles carbon pollution into sustainable fuels and products.
No space in Prince William’s thoughts
Prince William has previously displayed his great emotional commitment to the cause with considerable criticism for those who chase space tourism. He suggested that entrepreneurs should focus on saving Earth rather than engaging in “trying to find the next place to go and live.” He said he had “absolutely no interest” in going as high as space, adding there was a fundamental question over the carbon cost of space flights. In praising his father, King Charles III, the Prince pointed out that he had been speaking about climate change long before anyone else thought it was “even a topic for discussion.”
Special mention for Queen and Grandmother
In a recent speech and acknowledging the uncertainty in the world from the current conflicts to poverty that grips many corners of the planet, and the “unimaginable challenges” people are facing, the Prince said these were added reasons to see “our collective mission as being so urgent.”
He also gave a special mention to his beloved grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, saying that he took great comfort in the continued enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to the Earth-Shot Prizes, as protecting the environment was a cause “very close to my grandmother’s heart, and I know she would have been delighted to hear about the on-going success of this event.”
Mick the Ram