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Prince William Announces New Prize Aimed at ‘Repairing’ the Planet
The goal is to award 50 projects more than $1 million each over the next 10 years for coming up with innovative solutions to address climate change and other environmental issues.
LONDON — Prince William on Thursday announced the establishment of an environmental prize worth 50 million pounds, or $65 million, that will reward climate change solutions over the next 10 years, saying it was an effort to “turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism.”
Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist behind dozens of documentaries chronicling the planet’s biodiversity, has joined a council overseeing the prize and helped promote its launch through promotional videos and joint interviews with Prince William.
Prince William said the “Earthshot Prize” was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s launch in 1961 of a decade-long research program, “Moonshot,” to send the first person to the moon.
It will comprise five awards of £1 million each for each of the next 10 years, centered on “earthshots,” or goals — fixing the climate, cleaning the air, protecting and restoring nature, reviving oceans, and tackling waste.
“We have to have a decade of change, a decade of repairing the planet so we can hand it on to the next generation and future generations,” Prince William said, adding that he didn’t want to “let down” his children by not acting.
“They don’t want to inherit a world that is full of doom and gloom,” he said.
The prize joins a long list of distinctions aimed at rewarding initiatives to tackle climate change. Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, promised to donate $500 million last year to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States.
Prince William launched the prize through the Royal Foundation, which supports charitable initiatives engaged in by him and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. It will be supported by a network of donors that include the Aga Khan Development Network, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Jack Ma Foundation, among others.
The Royal Foundation declined to offer additional information on the amount offered by each donor funding the prize, and did not say whether the British royal family would be donating any of its own money to the award.
The prize comes amid growing concerns over climate change worldwide. Droughts have intensified in regions like the Middle East and Africa, and many areas keep registering their hottest months on record — September was just the latest example.
Wildfires and heat waves are expected to increase, and rising sea levels are set to affect hundreds of millions across the world as experts predict that by 2050, the Arctic’s ice could melt entirely in the summer.
Scientists have also predicted that global warming could trigger the greatest wave of global migration the world has seen, and warned that it might be too late to reverse the course of climate change.
Prince William said that although the planet was at a tipping point, he hoped that the prize would encourage innovators to find solutions quickly.
“If we don’t get our act together in the next 10 years, by 2030, it’s too late,” he said. In an interview with the BBC announcing the launch of the prize, Prince William said it was time for him to campaign for the environment the way his father, Prince Charles, has long done.
“I’ve always listened to and learned and believed in what he was saying,” Prince William said about his father’s longstanding commitment to environmental causes such as organic farming and finding alternatives to plastics.