Prince William follows in JFK's footsteps with $50 million environmental prize
William's Earthshot Prize is described as “the most prestigious" in history.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has launched a new environmental prize described by Kensington Palace as the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."
William's Earthshot Prize is modeled after former U.S. President John F. Kennedy's famous moonshot challenge that he launched in a speech before Congress in 1961.
While Kennedy's challenge was to put U.S. astronauts on the moon by the end of the decade, William's Earthshot Prize comes with the equally lofty goal of finding solutions to the biggest of Earth's challenges.
The prize focuses on five Earthshots, or goals, to repair the planet by 2030, according to Kensington Palace.
Each year until 2030, Prince William and Earthshot Prize Council will award The Earthshot Prize to five winners, one per Earthshot, who will each receive $1 million, according to Kensington Palace.
The goal is to create "at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030," the palace said in a news release announcing details of William's new initiative.
"The plan is to really galvanize and bring together the best minds, the best possible solutions, to fixing and tackling some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges," William said in a film released to announce the members of the Earthshot Prize Council. "We’ve got to harness our ingenuity and our ability to invent."
"The next 10 years are a critical decade for change," he said. "Time is of the essence, which is why we believe that this very ambitious global prize is the only way forward.”
In addition to Prince William, members of the Earthshot Prize Council include actress Cate Blanchett, singer Shakira, natural historian Sir David Attenborough and former NBA star Yao Ming, among others.
The Earthshot Prize is a passion project for William, one which he has been developing for the past two years. William partnered on the prize with his Royal Foundation, the charitable organization run by William and Kate, which calls the prize its “biggest initiative to date.”
William spoke Thursday about the uniqueness of announcing this initiative during the global coronavirus pandemic.
"I don’t think we’ve faced anything like this," he said. "Obviously previous generations have gone through the world wars and times that were far tougher than what they are now but we are going through a certain where families are being restricted from seeing each other. Jobs are being lost. It’s difficult for everybody."
"But the spirit of togetherness and the ability to fight back is I think you know one of humans’ kind of biggest elements and I do think it’s brought us closer together. I think we’re all in a shared, similar situation," William added. "If we can take that forward into the environment and replicate that – you know we found over £190 billion worth to fix and help the recovery through Covid. We can do the same for the environment. It really isn’t that difficult."
William, who has long championed environmental efforts, is the subject of a documentary released this week highlighting his conservation and environmental work.
In announcing details of the Earthshot Prize, William, the father of Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2, spoke about how he wants to make the world a better place for future generations.
"You kind of look at yourself and go – am I doing enough on this? Are we really in the stage of life where I can’t be hugely optimistic and pleased that my children are getting so into nature because you kind of work and dread that they’re soon going to realize that we’re in a very, very dangerous and difficult time for the environment and that as a parent you feel like you’re letting them down immediately," he said. "I think every parent, everyone wants to do their best for their children and I think we have to have a decade of change, a decade of repairing the planet so that we can hand it on to the next generation and future generations and sustain the prosperity for their lives too."
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