The inaugural winners of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize include the country of Costa Rica, an Indian organization that creates fuel from agricultural waste and a coral farming group in the Bahamas.
The prize, a Nobel-like award founded by the Duke of Cambridge and renowned British naturalist David Attenborough, aims to inspire innovative solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges currently facing the planet.
Each of the five winners walks away with $1.3 million and the promise of “professional and technical support” to scale up their innovations.
Costa Rica won for its scheme to pay local citizens to protect and restore rainforests and local eco-systems, a system that the prize committee credits for having already reversed decades of deforestation.
Indian organization Takachar’s innovation was a technology that attaches to tractors and reduces smoke emissions by up to 98% while converting the residue into new products.
Coral Vita in the Bahamas won for its method of accelerating coral regrowth by growing it first on land and then replanting on depleted underwater reefs.
The entire city of Milan was recognized for “Food Hubs” approach to reducing food waste and distributing to the needy food that would be otherwise be wasted by restaurants and supermarkets.
And a Thai, German and Italian group won for its AEM Electrolyser, a technology that turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas.
The winners were announced Sunday at an glittering awards ceremony at London’s Alexandra Palace.
“We are alive in the most consequential time in human history. The actions we choose or choose not to take in the next 10 years will determine the fate of the planet for the next thousand,” William said in a short film recorded in the London Eye for the awards ceremony.
“A decade doesn’t seem long, but humankind has an outstanding record of being able to solve the unsolvable.”
William continued that “many of the answers are already out there… but we need everyone to raise their ambition and unite in repairing our planet.”
“The future is ours to determine. And if we set our minds to it, nothing is impossible,” he added.