Prince William has urged young people around the world to help repair the planet. Speaking at the inaugural Earthshot Prize, which he founded in 2018, the Duke of Cambridge closed a glittering ceremony in London with a passionate speech.
“I want to say something to the young watching tonight,” he said onstage at Alexandra Palace. “For too long, we haven’t done enough to protect the planet for your future, the Earthshot is for you. In the next 10 years, we are going to act. We are going to find solutions to repair our planet. Please keep learning, keep demanding change, and don’t give up hope. We will rise to these challenges.”
The ceremony for the annual environmental prize saw five winners awarded £1 million ($1.37 million) each to fund their efforts to repair the planet.
Coral farmers from the Bahamas were awarded a prize for their revolutionary project to restore coral reefs, which involves growing coral on land then replanting it in the ocean, a process which is 50 times faster than traditional methods and, adds an Earthshot statement, “improves coral resilience to the impact of climate change.”
The Duchess of Cambridge handed out the Protect and Restore Nature category prize to the government of Costa Rica, which has led an impressive initiative to pay local citizens to help restore their natural ecosystems.
Speaking onstage, Kate said, “For too long, we have neglected our wild spaces. And now we are facing a number of tipping points. If we don’t act now, we will permanently destabilize our planet. And we will rob our children of the future they deserve.”
During the show, which saw the likes of Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, YouTube star KSI, and Afropop singer Yemi Alade perform, and the likes of Emma Watson (who wore a white gown made up of 10 dresses from secondhand charity store Oxfam) and Emma Thompson present three other categories, it was also announced that next year’s event—the second in a decade-long initiative—will take place in the United States, awarding a further £5 million ($6.87 million) to five more winners.
Earlier in the evening, the Cambridges kicked things off by arriving on the green carpet in an electric Audi e-tron (a change from their favored gas-thirsty Range Rovers), both wearing clothes they have worn to engagements in the past. For William, it was a green velvet smoking jacket (first worn in 2019) and a 20-year-old pair of pants, and for Kate, it was the lilac Alexander McQueen dress she first wore to a 2011 BAFTA dinner in Los Angeles. All guests invited to the event had been asked to “consider the environment” when choosing their outfits, and no one was flown out to the event to ensure that it carried a small carbon footprint.
When William first announced the Earthshot Prize, he explained at the time that he was inspired by John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot and wanted the ambitious project to help inject optimism into the climate debate. Alongside Earthshot council member Sir David Attenborough, a panel of judges was formed—including Shakira, Cate Blanchett, Queen Rania of Jordan, and basketball star Yao Ming—to find inspirational innovators who are tackling some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.
Later this month, William and Kate, as well as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will attend the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, where they will join global leaders, including President Joe Biden, to negotiate a new deal to stall rising global temperatures.
The full Earthshot 2021 winners list is below.
Protect and Restore Nature: The Republic of Costa Rica
A program paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems that has led to a major revival of the rainforest.
Clean Our Air: Takachar, India
Cutting-edge technology to create fuel from agricultural waste and put a stop to the global air problem of crop burning.
Revive Our Oceans: Coral Vita, Bahamas
An innovative approach to coral farming that can help restore our world’s dying coral reefs faster than any traditional method.
Build a Waste-free World: The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs, Italy
A citywide initiative that has dramatically cut waste while tackling hunger.
Fix Our Climate: AEM Electrolyser, Thailand/Germany/Italy
A green hydrogen technology developed to transform how we power our homes and buildings.
Related Article: Prince William Is Working On A Book To Support The Earthshot Prize
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.