In an effort to solve the world’s environmental issues by 2030, Prince William and an international council including Shakira and Cate Blanchett launched The Earthshot, a global award that will give out £50m in prizes over the next 10 years.

“The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious environmental prize that there’s ever been,” Prince Williams said in an interview with British broadcaster David Attenborough, who is also a member of the prize council. “The plan is to really galvanize and bring together the best possible solutions to fix and tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges.”

Inspired by President Kennedy’s Moonshot, his ambitious idea to set foot on the moon which ignited global technological development in the 60’s, the Earthshot has five categories that aim to spark creative inventions. The environmental goals supported by the award include “Protect and Restore Nature,” “Clean Our Air,” “Revive Our Oceans,” “Build a Waste-Free World” and “Fix Our Climate.” Every year, there will be one winner per category and each will receive £1 million to execute their ideas, totaling 50 winners and £50 million in prizes by 2030.

Who are the prize council members and benefactors?

Prince William recruited a 12-member international team to join him in the selection process of innovative projects. Although the initiative was announced last Dember, the council members were just announced in the second week of October. Prize council members include award-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett and Colombian singer and philanthropist Shakira.

In a recent video post on Shakira’s Facebook page, the singer invited Prince William to her home country Colombia, one of the most biodiverse places21 in the world, and revealed her reasons to join Earthshot. “If we all live on this planet, regardless of race, social status, religion, we are all directly affected [by climate change],” Shakira said. “The damage that’s being inflicted on this planet is really accelerating at a crazy pace and we are in a race against the clock.”

In another video interview with Prince William, Cate Blanchett shared similar concerns. “There’s no greater challenge, I don’t think, facing us as a species than tackling climate change,” Blanchett said. “I really do believe that we, human beings, are capable of so very much.”

Other notable names in the council member list include Queen Raina Al Abdullah of Jordan, Brazilian soccer player Daniel Alves Da Silva and former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi.

Chinese business magnate and former Alibaba chairman Jack Ma is among the council members too and his eponymous foundation will donate £3 million for prizes.“I am honored to partner with HRH The Duke of Cambridge @KensingtonRoyal & other global leaders and organizations to support the @EarthshotPrize and tackle the environmental challenges we all face,” Jack Ma said on Twitter. “Together, we can protect our planet from climate change.”

Besides the Jack Ma Foundation, the ambitious environmental award has the financial support of other billionaire foundations such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, DP World in partnership with Dubai EXPO 2020, Marc and Lynne Benioff and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

What are the award categories?

The call for submission will start on November 1 and welcomes individuals, teams and collaborations formed by experts in all fields who have evidence-based plans to fix one of the five Earthshots. The category “Protect and Restore Nature” is looking for projects that will reduce the extinction rate of world species by stopping illegal wildlife trafficking and restoring natural habitats. The Earthshot “Clean Our Air” will recognize ideas that promote green transport and clean energy to minimize air pollution. “Revive Our Oceans” is seeking plans to repair underwater ecosystems and tackle unsustainable fishing practices. The category “Build a Waste-Free World” will reward innovative solutions to end single-use packaging, to revolutionize city waste management and to give a new life to landfill waste. Finally, the Earthshot “Fix Our Climate” wants proposals to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

How was the international support?

After the official announcement of the prize, several American politicians expressed their support to the environmental initiative led by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. “It’s going to take a lot of big-thinking and innovation to save the one planet we’ve got—and that’s why @KensingtonRoyal’s leadership on climate change can make a real difference,” former President Barack Obama tweeted a day after the official announcement. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also shared the news of the award with her followers and urged them to submit projects. “We don’t have any time to lose when it comes to protecting our planet for future generations. Send your biggest, boldest ideas to @kensingtonroyal and @earthshotprize,” Clinton tweeted.

Although it is unclear what the COVID-19 regulations will be like next year, the inaugural winners are expected to be announced in a fall ceremony in London. While the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is currently running the award, they expect The Earthshot Prize to become its own entity by the end of 2021. From then on, every year the awards ceremony will take place in a different city around the world.

While there are some weeks to go before submissions start coming, Prince William is positive about this new environmental award. “These next ten years is the critical decade of change,” Prince William said to Attenborough in an interview. “I’m hoping this prize could really make a difference.”

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