Prince William’s Earthshot Prize: £5m (5 prizes) a year, 10 years until 2030 (£50m in total)

By Asitha Jayawardena

Operation Moonshot. It all started in the US, with John F Kennedy’s ambitious lunar programme that landed astronauts for the first time on the moon on 20 July 1969.

Fifty years later, Prince William in the UK along with the Royal Foundation, decided that the Earth in disarray (well, for him to think like that, it took decades or so) and the Earthshot – five of the prizes a year – needed. In October 2020, it was the launch of The Earthshot Prize, the most prestigious global prize for the environment in history with an amount of £50m in total.

His father, Prince Charles, as well as TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough were part of these initial discussions that went on 18 months in the planning stage.

The five Earthshots

The Earthshot Prize aims to find the solutions to repair the planet by 2030.

“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,” Prince William said. “People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.”

The five Earthshots, representing nature, air, oceans, waste and climate, are:

  • Protect and restore nature.
  • Clean our air.
  • Revive our oceans.
  • Build a waste-free world.
  • Fix our climate.

Nominations and awards

Individuals, as well as countries, could win the five prizes a year and the list is endless: scientists, activists, economists, community projects, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and of course countries. The advice obtained from the Nobel Prize and the Xprize was useful here.

For the first prize of 5 Earthshots, each £1m in value, the nominations began on the 1 November 2020. Over 100 nominations came in from across the world. Out of 15 finalists, the winners will be announced in an awards ceremony in London in autumn 2021 and then, until 2030, nine ceremonies will be held in other major cities around the world. Together, it will place 50 solutions to the pressing environmental problems we face in until 2030 and beyond.

The Earthshot Council

The Prize will be supported by the global alliances, including WWF and Greenpeace. The next year, it is planned to have its own foundation. Backers include the Aga Khan Development Network, Bloomberg Philanthropies, DP World in partnership with Dubai Expo 2020, and the Jack Ma Foundation.

A council, comprising high-profile leaders from the environmental, philanthropic, business, sporting and entertainment worlds, will award the prize. The 13 members include actress Cate Blanchett, singer Shakira, Queen Rania of Jordan, Japanese former astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, Brazilian footballer Dani Alves, basketball star Yao Ming, former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Christiana Figueres, naturalist Sir David Attenborough and Prince William himself.

Views of the Council

Several members of the Earthshot Council talked about humanity and nature.

Cate Blanchett said that “all around the world, science and community-based initiatives are leading to ground-breaking inventions and solutions”, and the prize aimed to “refocus the narrative on climate change to one of hope and action”.

Shakira said: “Your children, my children – they have to find ways to reduce carbon emissions, to repair our oceans, to clean the air. So we need young minds to be informed and invested, which is why education is so important. But we can’t just stand still. We have to lead the way and we have to do it now.”

Queen Rania said: “When our backs are against the wall, humanity has a knack for coming together to find innovative solutions.”

Finally, Dani Alves said: “It’s the most important power in the world – nature. If you give it good things then nature gives good things back to you. We’re going to make a good team.”

From Moonshot to Earthshot

John F Kennedy’s Operation Moonshot in the 1960s became successful with a man landing on the moon in 1969.

About 50 years later, Prince William launched the Earthshot in 2020 with a view of a decade until 2030. Rising global temperatures among other things can be taken into account if Prince William’s target to be achieved along with the 50 solutions of the Earthshots from 2021 to 2030.

Will he achieve it? Only time will tell.

But let’s hope that The Earthshot Prize will achieve the goals on the environment, bringing in ten years a novel planet called Earth. There, we can live together happily ever after.


Conservation: The Earthshot Prize

Earthshot prize: Prince William launches £50m drive to repair planet

Prince William | This decade calls for Earthshots to repair our planet


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