by Julius WiedemannFeb 09, 2022
Said to be among the most prestigious honours within the sphere of global environmentalism, the Earthshot Prize was launched in October 2020 by Prince William and The Royal Foundation, to inspire collective action around humanity’s capacity to innovate, derive solutions, and ultimately fix several environmental problems that are currently plaguing our planet. Promoting cutting-edge strategies and decisive leadership within the arena of environmental causes, the Earthshot Prize bestows £1 million prizes to winners across five categories. The five awards, known as 'Earthshots', are underpinned by the salient aspects of scientific targets outlined by both the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as well as other global measures. The categories are titled: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-free World, and Fix our Climate. On October 17, 2021, the Earthshot Prize honoured the five winners of its inaugural edition in a star-studded ceremony held at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Earthshot Prize Founder and Prize Council Member, Prince William, states about the initiative’s importance in an official release, “Our five inspirational winners show that everyone has a role to play in the global effort to repair our planet. We need businesses, leaders, innovators, and communities to take action. And, ultimately, we need all of us to demand that the solutions get the support they need. Because the success of our winners is our collective, global Earthshot.” Initially inspired by John F Kennedy’s 'Moonshot' programme of the 1960s, which advanced a collective global push towards mankind’s first steps on the Moon, the Earthshot Prize’s conception was based on a desire to foster innovation and imminent action against climate change.
To this end, through the five £1 million prizes handed out annually over the next decade, the organisers hope to facilitate the development of 50 solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental issues. In essence, the awards and associated activities will herald a crucial 10-year period of action, to maximise the scale and impact of implemented measures, buoyed by the support of the Earthshot Prize’s Global Alliance - a network of organisations that share a similar vision for a sustainable future. Echoing these sentiments, Earthshot Prize Council Member, Sir David Attenborough, says in a press statement, “The natural world on which we entirely depend is declining at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the dinosaurs. We know where this story is heading and we must now write a different ending. This is what The Earthshot Prize was created to achieve. The 15 Earthshot Prize finalists tonight build optimism by finding innovative and brilliant solutions to the world’s challenges, and they give us hope, which, we are told, springs eternal.”
Centred on the symbol of the globe, the Earthshot Prize’s brand identity was developed along the theme of ‘Murmuration’. With a delicate form that replicates the patterns exhibited by starlings flying in formation, the Prize’s emblem, as well as those of the five categories, are a symphonic, enduring reminder of the power of collaboration. Furthermore, the medals for each of the next 50 winners were designed by acclaimed Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma - whose work has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The awards ceremony itself featured a bespoke set design developed by United Kingdom-based Peter Bingemann Designs, with brass sculptural pieces based on the Earthshot Prize emblem. In the backdrop, an LED floor screen served as an immersive, changing environment, highlighting the natural world as the winners were unveiled.
The five Earthshot Prize 2021 winners are:
Protect and Restore Nature: The Republic of Costa Rica
With the assistance of a groundbreaking scheme offering remuneration to local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, the Republic of Costa Rica is said to have nearly doubled the sizes of its forests, reversing decades of deforestation and injecting $4 billion into the national economy and a boom in eco-tourism.
Clean our Air: Takachar, India
New Delhi-based company Takachar has devised trailblazing technology to eliminate crop burning - a major contributor to India’s severe problem of air pollution. Their economic, small-scale, portable technology can be affixed to tractors in remote farms in order to convert crop residues into marketable goods such as fuel and fertiliser.
Revive our Oceans: Coral Vita, Bahamas
Based out of the Bahamas, Coral Vita is an organisation that creates high-tech land-based coral farms to restore depleting coastal coral by means of replanting. Coral Vita also works with local communities, public officials, and private companies to improve education and create new employment avenues within the realm of environmental protection.
Build a Waste-free World: The City of Milan, Italy
Milan’s Food Waste Hubs programme was initiated in 2019 with the aim of cutting the city’s food waste by 2030, recovering food from local supermarkets and restaurants and working with local NGOs to distribute those in need. As the first major city to implement a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses, each of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs recovers about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350 kg each day, equivalent to approximately 260,000 meals.
Fix our Climate: AEM Electrolyser, Thailand/Germany/Italy
A compact hydrogen generator developed to revolutionise how we power our homes and buildings, the AEM Electrolyser from Enapter turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. This green hydrogen technology has been developed to function far more economically and quickly than ever before. At present, Enapter’s vision for 2050 is to account for 10 per cent of the world’s hydrogen generation.
Chosen from among 750 nominations - screened by the Prize’s implementation partner Deloitte - the 15 finalists at the awards ceremony were first assessed by an expert advisory council. Including eminent professionals with experience in fields ranging from conservation, activism, and academia to economics, politics, innovation, and business, this committee was responsible for passing on recommendations to the Earthshot Prize Council, which was tasked with selecting the final five winners. The entire selection and shortlisting process was structured over five steps. A diverse team of influential individuals constituted this year’s Earthshot Prize Council. Among them were: Prince William, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Sir David Attenborough, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Indra Nooyi, Shakira Mebarak, Christiana Figueres, Luisa Neubauer, Cate Blanchett, Yao Ming, Daniel Alves Da Silva, Ernest Gibson, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Jack Ma, and Naoko Yamazaki. Following its immensely successful first outing, the Earthshot Prize will move to a new city each year, with the 2022 awards ceremony scheduled to be held in the United States, and nominations set to open in January 2022.
Click here to view the full list of winners and finalists across all categories.