First-ever winners of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize announced

The Earthshot Prize this week revealed the first-ever five Prize Winners of the most prestigious environment awards in history at a glittering ceremony held at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Each of these five Winners will receive £1 million prize money and a global network of professional and technical support to scale their ‘remarkable environmental solutions to repair our planet and accelerate their impact’.

The five Winners include cutting-edge technologists, innovators, an entire country, and a pioneering city.

The five Winners were selected by The Earthshot Prize Council and were chosen for their ground-breaking solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet and their ability to scale their impact globally in response to the urgent challenges we face.

The Earthshot Prize Winners for 2021 are:

Protect & restore nature winner – Republic of Costa Rica

Forests are home to half our plants and animals and three quarters of our birds. They suck carbon from the air and return the oxygen we breathe. Yet in 2020 more trees were felled than ever before, causing 10% of global warming.

In the 1990s, the vast forests of Costa Rica were devastated, half their former size. But the people of Costa Rica and their Ministry for Environment had a plan to save them. Its programmes paid citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems.

The results were extraordinary. Costa Rica’s forests doubled in size. Flora and fauna thrived which led to a boom in ecotourism, contributing $4 billion to the economy.

The government is now taking the approach to urban areas. It believes 30% of the world’s land and oceans could be protected this way too.

Winning The Earthshot Prize would help it share knowledge and practices globally, especially in the Global South. Costa Rica’s motto is “pura vida” or “pure life”. Those words could soon echo across the world.

Clean our air winner – India, Takachar

Globally, we generate $120 billion of agricultural waste every year. What farmers cannot sell, they often burn, with catastrophic consequences for human health and the environment. The burning of agricultural waste causes air pollution that in some areas has reduced life expectancy by a decade.

This plays out every year in the fields surrounding New Delhi. Smoke from man-made infernos fills the air, with serious consequences for the health of locals. One of their number is Vidyut Mohan. His social enterprise, Takachar, is putting out the fire.

Takachar has developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms. The machine converts crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertilizer.

Takachar’s technology reduces smoke emissions by up to 98% which will help improve the air quality that currently reduces the affected population’s life expectancy by up to 5 years. If scaled, it could cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year: a win for India’s farmers will be a win in the fight against climate change.

Revive our oceans winner – Bahamas, Coral Vita

Ocean warming and acidification are set to destroy over 90% of reefs by 2050, a death sentence for the quarter of marine life who need them to survive. It will be a disaster, too, for the billion human lives dependent on the benefits reefs provide.

A year after Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern launched Coral Vita’s first facility in Grand Bahama, Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm. The experience brought home the extent of the climate emergency and strengthened their resolve to protect our reefs.

Coral Vita, which grows coral on land to replant in oceans, gives new life to dying ecosystems. Its methods grow coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods and improves resilience to the impact of climate change.

As well as restoring reefs, Teicher and Halpern work with local communities, public officials, and private companies to improve education, create new job prospects, and build a model to inject more funding into environmental protection. Coral Vita gives new life not just to the ocean but to coastal economies as well.

With Coral Vita’s methods, a single farm could potentially supply coral for an entire nation, and they ultimately envision a network of such farms in every nation with reefs, kickstarting a restoration economy to preserve the ecosystems that sustain us all. Winning the prize will help them make that vision a reality.

Build a waste-free world winner – Italy, The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs

A third of all food produced globally is wasted. Each discarded food item uses precious resources and heaps pressure on agriculture. The global food system generates between 25-30% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions suffer from food insecurity.

The City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs tackle two problems in one. Launched in 2019 with the aim of halving waste by 2030, each hub recovers food mainly from supermarkets and companies’ canteens and gives it to NGOs who distribute it to the neediest citizens.

Milan is the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses. And it is working. Today the city has three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350 kg per day, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent.

Milan has created a blueprint that can be scaled throughout the world. If more follow Milan’s lead, cities may become one of our greatest assets in humanity’s progress toward a waste free world.

Fix our climate winner – Thailand / Germany / Italy, Aem Electrolyser

Born in a climate-change affected South Pacific Island, Vaitea Cowan co-founded Enapter to turn back the tide. Just three years on, its green hydrogen technology could change the way we power our world.

We have made huge advances in renewable energy. But we can still go further. With 30% of our energy already renewable, we need to focus on the 70% that remains: non-renewable energy that powers everything from industry to transport.

Enapter provides a clean alternative. Its AEM Electrolyser technology turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. Developed quicker and cheaper than once thought possible, the technology already fuels cars and planes, powers industry and heats homes.

This is just the start. Funding from winning The Earthshot Prize would help scale mass production, which is planned to begin in 2022, while growing the team faster and funding further research and development. By 2050, Enapter’s vision is to account for 10% of the world’s hydrogen generation.

Enapter shows us that, when faced with the greatest of challenges, we can turn back the tide.

The Earthshot Prize 2022

The ceremony capped a 10-month global search with over 750 nominations from around the world. 15 Finalists were chosen through a rigorous selection process, supported by an Expert Advisory Panel, for their potential to positively impact people and the natural world and their ability to help us reach our Earthshot goals.

Each Winner was awarded a beautiful, one-of-a-kind Prize medal, designed by award-winning Dutch artist Christien Meindertsma, inspired by the iconic ‘Earthrise’ photo taken of the Earth from space from the Apollo 8 mission in 1968 and created from recycled materials.

The Winners were connected to the Awards Ceremony by global broadcast, where The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were joined by Sir David Attenborough, Christiana Figueres, Dani Alves and a host of stars and performers including Ed Sheeran and Yemi Alade.

All 15 Finalists will receive tailored support from The Earthshot Prize Global Alliance, an unrivalled network of philanthropies, NGOs, and private sector businesses around the world who will help scale their solutions.

The Awards Ceremony concluded by revealing The Earthshot Prize will travel to the United States of America in 2022. Nominations for the 2022 Prize will open in January 2022.

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