The New York Times – Nearly $7 Million Awarded in First Earthshot Prizes
Costa Rica and the city of Milan were among the five winners that each received one million pounds, or nearly $1.4 million, to continue sustainability and conservation efforts during a ceremony in London.
October 18, 2021
LONDON — Costa Rica and the city of Milan on Sunday were among the first to be awarded one million pounds, or nearly $1.4 million, for their sustainability and conservation efforts as part of a newly established environmental prize presided over by Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The award, known as the Earthshot Prize, gives funding to nominees developing solutions in five areas: nature conservation, waste management, ocean revival, air quality and climate change.
The ceremony comes as climate change is top of mind, ahead of a United Nations summit meeting in Glasgow this month that will gather an estimated 20,000 delegates from nearly every country in the world to discuss how to mitigate the impact of climate change. Organizers of the new prize are hoping it will become the most prestigious in the field, an ambition evident at the award ceremony held at Alexandra Palace in north London, a glamorous affair with high-profile attendees that was broadcast on the BBC and Discovery’s Facebook page.
The singer Ed Sheeran, the band Coldplay and the British rapper Olajide William Olatunji, better known as KSI, performed. Coldplay’s performance was electrically powered by some 60 cyclists. Presenters of the awards included the actors Emma Watson, David Oyelowo and Emma Thompson and the Egyptian soccer player Mohamed Salah. A short film included messages from world leaders such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who all vowed to address environmental issues.
David Attenborough, who gave the opening remarks, warned that “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.”
Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 “moonshot” address to Congress, during which he announced his goal to put a person on the moon within 10 years, the prize is intended to incentivize action around key environmental challenges the world faces over the next decade.
“We are alive at the most consequential time in human history,” Prince William said in a video shown during the ceremony. “This is the decisive decade. Time is running out. Many of the answers are already out there.”
Milan won for a citywide food recovery policy that redirected surplus food to charities and food banks, and Costa Rica was celebrated for a national system that reversed deforestation by paying citizens to restore forests. The three other winners were Takachar, a social enterprise based in India developing technology to combat air pollution from agricultural burning; Coral Vita, whose land-based farms in the Bahamas grow coral to replant in the ocean; and Enapter, a company using technology to reduce emissions in renewable electricity.
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Written by Isabella Kwai