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Prince William announces most prestigious environmental prize in history

The Duke of Cambridge is teaming up with Sir David Attenborough

Emily Nash
Emily NashRoyal EditorLondon
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As the world welcomes a new decade, the Duke of Cambridge has unveiled a major global prize to reward those working to save the planet. The multi-million pound Earthshot Prize – the most prestigious environmental prize in history – will challenge the world’s greatest problem solvers to solve Earth’s greatest environmental problems. William again joined forces with Sir David Attenborough, who announced the prize in a striking short film.

The Duke has been developing the idea for more than a year and Sir David was the first person he discussed it with outside the royal family.

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Kensington Palace shared the news on Instagram alongside a short video about the award 

In a statement, William said: “The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. 

MORE: Kensington Palace shares highlights from the Cambridge family's year - watch it here

"Remember the awe-inspiring civilisations that we have built, the life-saving technology we have created, the fact that we have put a man on the moon. People can achieve great things. And the next ten years presents us with one of our greatest tests - a decade of action to repair the Earth." 

The Earthshot Prize will be awarded to five winners each year for 10 years and aims to provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030.

princewilliaminpakistan © Kensington Palace

Prince William in Pakistan 

Earthshot challenges will be announced at special events around the world and an annual awards ceremony will take place in different cities each year. The Prize, which includes a "significant financial award" will recognise innovators working on solutions for problems involving climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution and fresh water. 

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And the Duke hopes it will inspire collaborative projects, sparking a global movement that encourages governments, businesses and communities to prioritise environmental issues. 

The Earthshot Prize embodies William’s desire to challenge pessimism over the future of the planet by driving positive action around the world, a long-term goal that will define his public work for the coming years. And it will allow him to continue the work of his father the Prince of Wales and grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh, who have both championed the protection of the natural world. 

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "For some time The Duke has been exploring how to drive positive global change in this space and has spoken with a wide range of individuals and experts about the best way to achieve this. He wanted to build on his father’s work on climate change, his grandfather’s work on conservation and his own work on Illegal Wildlife Trade."

William’s focus on conservation has already reaped huge dividends – he has led programmes such as United for Wildlife Financial and Transportation taskforces to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade and is patron of several charities working to preserve wildlife and the environment, such as The Tusk Trust. 

The Duke has also collaborated with Sir David in the past, notably at the World Economic Forum at Davos last January, when he interviewed the veteran naturalist on stage. William also joined his father Charles and brother Harry at the premiere of Sir David’s Netflix series Our Planet in April.

The Earthshot Prize is inspired by the concept of moonshots, a term used since the 1969 moon landing to describe ambitious and ground-breaking goals. 

But the Earthshots will reward progress across all sectors, not just technology and could go to scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries.

In his film to announce the project, Sir David Attenborough said: "The spirit of the Moonshot can guide us today as we confront the serious challenges we face on earth. This year Prince William and a global alliance launch the most prestigious Environment Prize in history, the Earthshot Prize. 

"A global prize designed to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers to think differently. Visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time."

As the Earthshot Prize was announced as the New Year began in the Pacific, it was hailed by environmental leaders.

Colin Butfield, Executive Director, WWF, said: “Advances in science, technology and global communications mean we now know with astonishing detail what happens if we don’t reverse the damage to our planet. But what if we use those same advances to change direction? In just ten years we can go from fear to hope, from disaster to discovery and from inertia to inspiration. The Earthshot Prize challenges us all to make this the decade that we build a future to be proud of."

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