The winners of the first-ever Earth shot Prizes are two best friends who cultivate coral and the country of Costa Rica.
The Duke of Cambridge established the yearly awards to honour those who are working to preserve the planet. In London, five winners were revealed, each receiving £1 million.
The ceremony at Alexandra Palace was attended by celebrities such as Emma Watson, Dame Emma Thompson, and David Oyelowo. Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, and KSI were among the performers, and the music was powered by 60 cyclists pedalling on bikes, in keeping with the eco ethos.
No celebrities travelled to London for the ceremony, no plastic was used to construct the stage, and visitors were encouraged to “consider the environment” when selecting an attire, with Watson donning a garment made out of ten different Oxfam dresses.
The “Moonshot” vision of 1960s America, which saw then-President John F Kennedy commit to putting a man on the Moon within a decade, inspired the Earth shot prize. For the next ten years, the prize will grant £1 million to five projects that are working to solve the world’s environmental concerns.
The inaugural winners were picked from a shortlist of 15 by a panel of judges that included broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett, and singer Shakira.
Protect and Restore Nature
The Republic of Costa Rica: Costa Rica was formerly a country that removed most of its woods, but it has since doubled the number of trees and is seen as a role model for others to follow. The winning initiative is a programme that pays local residents to restore natural habitats, resulting in the rebirth of the rainforest.
Clean our Air
India’s Takachar: A portable machine designed to convert agricultural trash into fertiliser so farmers don’t have to burn their crops and pollute the air.
Revive our Oceans
Coral Vita, Bahamas: A project led by two best friends who cultivate coral in the Bahamas with the goal of reviving the world’s dwindling coral reefs. They’ve devised a way to grow coral up to 50 times quicker than normal using special tanks.
Build a Waste-Free World
The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs, Italy: Waste is another concern, and the city of Milan in Italy has won a prize for collecting unwanted food and distributing it to those in need. The project has significantly reduced trash while also addressing hunger.
Fix our Climate
AEM Electrolyser, Thailand/Germany/Italy: A innovative concept in Thailand that uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to produce hydrogen. Although hydrogen is a non-polluting gas, it is often produced by burning fossil fuels.
Prince William said the next ten years will be a “decisive decade” for the planet in a recorded message played at the ceremony, which was broadcast on BBC One and iPlayer at 20:00 BST. He said, “Time is running out.” “A decade doesn’t seem long enough, but humankind has an outstanding record of being able to solve the unsolvable.”
Earlier this week, the Duke of Edinburgh recommended that instead of focusing on space tourism, the world’s brightest minds should concentrate on rescuing the planet. The message was that environmental issues need the same level of attention as the Oscars, with luminaries from the worlds of football and music arriving on a green carpet.
The winning teams were clearly ecstatic to get such high-profile recognition. The question now is whether or not these efforts can be scaled up to make a global impact.
The idea is for reputed name businesses to sponsor these mostly small-scale programmes and help them become worldwide, whether it’s restoring reefs and forests or reducing trash and carbon emissions.