London — Britain's Prince William has announced what Kensington Palace calls "the most prestigious global environment prize in history." The Earthshot Prize, a joint venture by the prince and a more than with the Bloomberg and Aga Khan Foundations, Queen Rania of Jordan and pop star Shakira, among other big names, is a multi- million dollar initiative with one mission: save the world.
The mission is Prince William's, but he's enlisted some other heavy hitters, including renowned environmentalist Sir David Attenborough. With the Earthshot Prize, the future British king and his global alliance are offering the princely sum of almost $65 million over the next 10 years, to whoever comes up with the best ideas to solve five of the world's biggest environmental challenges by 2030.
Every year from 2021 until 2030, the Earthshot Prize Council will award a prize to five winners offering "evidence-based solutions" for each of the five broad Earthshot objectives:
- Protect and restore nature
- Clean our air
- Revive our oceans
- Build a waste-free world
- Fix our climate
According to Prince William's official residence Kensington Palace, which explained the new initiative, each of the five annual winners will receive a reward of about $1.3 million, "that will be used to support agreed environmental and conservation projects as well as large-scale public recognition and significant support to scale their solution."
The prizes could go to "a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations — scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries — anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving these environmental challenges," the palace said.
Prince William said having his own little princes and princess to look after drove him to take action on climate change and wildlife preservation.
The Earthshot Prize may be the most ambitious initiative Prince William has ever undertaken, but he's following in the footsteps of his father Prince Charles, and grandfather Prince Phillip, both of whom have campaigned for sustainability for decades.
Royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah said that while William has been a vocal advocate for conservation for at least a few years, the Earthshot Prize "is definitely what he sees as his defining project on the road to becoming king."
"I think with all things in life, if you are willing to make a difference, you have to put yourself out there and you have to commit yourself and be determined, and maybe go places that you might feel uncomfortable," Prince William said of the initiative.
"There's a lot of people wanting to do many good things for the environment and what they need is a bit of a catalyst, a bit of hope, a bit of positivity that we can actually fix what's being presented," he told BBC Radio 4. "I think that urgency with optimism really creates action. And so The Earthshot Prize is really about harnessing that optimism and that urgency to find solutions."
The Earthshot Prize was inspired by President John F. Kennedy's ambitious Moonshot.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and other things, not because they're easy, but because they're hard," the late U.S. President told the world. And it was a success; before the end of the decade, an American astronaut took "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Prince William and his partners believe mankind's very existence now depends on the Earthshot being a success, too.