LONDON – Costa Rica and the city of Milan were among the first to receive Â£ 1million, or nearly $ 1.4million, on Sunday for their sustainability and conservation efforts under a new environmental award chaired by Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The award, known as the Earthshot Prize, grants funding to applicants who develop solutions in five areas: nature conservation, waste management, ocean renaissance, air quality and climate change.
The ceremony comes as climate change is a priority, ahead of a UN summit meeting in Glasgow this month that will bring together around 20,000 delegates from nearly every country in the world to discuss how to mitigate the impact of climate change. The organizers of the new award hope it will become the most prestigious in the field, an ambition evident at the awards ceremony held at Alexandra Palace in north London, a glamorous affair with top attendees level that was broadcast on the BBC.
Singer Ed Sheeran, band Coldplay and British rapper Olajide William Olatunji, better known as KSI, have performed. Coldplay’s performance was electrically powered by around sixty riders. Presenters for the awards included actors Emma Watson, David Oyelowo and Emma Thompson and Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah. A short film included messages from world leaders such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all of whom have pledged to tackle environmental issues.
David Attenborough, who gave the keynote address, warned that “the actions we choose or choose not to take over the next 10 years will determine the fate of the planet for the next thousand.”
Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 âmoonshotâ speech to Congress, in which he announced his goal of putting one person on the moon within 10 years, the award aims to inspire action around major environmental challenges facing the world over the next decade. .
“We are alive at the most important time in human history,” Prince William said in a video released at the ceremony. âThis is the decisive decade. Hurry up. Many answers already exist.
Many winners said the prize money would help expand their efforts or allow them to share their work so that it can be replicated in other locations.
âWhat we have achieved in this small Central American country can be achieved anywhere,â President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica said in a acceptance speech. âWe will continue to recognize nature as our most valuable asset. “
Over 750 nominations were submitted by over 200 organizations for the Earthshot Prize, which began accepting nominations in November. The submissions were reviewed in a process led by accounting firm Deloitte before being vetted by an expert advisory group of scientists, climate policy makers and academics, according to the website. of the Earthshot Prize. A board of top judges – including actress Cate Blanchett, Queen Rania of Jordan and Chinese businessman Jack Ma – selected the five winners out of 15 finalists.
Managed by the Royal Foundation, a charity supporting Prince William and Kate, five awards will be given each year to help solve environmental problems by 2030. Next year’s ceremony, Prince William said on Sunday, will be held in the United States.
From Finalists for the awards were groups working to protect endangered animals, organize public databases on local water and air quality, and make solar energy accessible. The youngest finalist, Vinisha Umashankar, 14, invented a solar-powered ironing cart.
Shortlisted candidates will be offered support and opportunities to achieve their ambitions through the Global Alliance, a network of organizations including the United Nations and the World Wildlife Fund, according to the Earthshot Prize website.
“They all reinforce optimism by finding innovative and brilliant solutions to the challenges of the world – and they all give us hope, which we are told is eternal,” Mr Attenborough said. âBut we don’t have eternity. We need to do it now – and over the next 10 years. “