Duke of Cambridge reveals his children were motivation for launching Earthshot Prize

The Duke of Cambridge spoke about his inspiration to establish the environmental prize in the introduction to an official book to accompany the prize. Credit: Kensington Palace/PA

The Duke of Cambridge was inspired to establish a global environmental prize to tackle climate change so he could “look my children in the eye and say that I did my bit".

Prince William, who created The Earthshot Prize in a bid to inspire innovative solutions to repair the planet, revealed the first fifteen finalists in a video.

The finalists have been selected from more than 750 nominations from across the world.

Five winners will be announced in a ceremony on October 17 and each will receive £1 million and tailored support to scale up their environmental solutions.

Prince William revealed the first fifteen Earthshot Prize finalists

Jason Knauf, Chief Executive of The Royal Foundation, said: “The challenge the duke set himself was ‘What is the maximum positive personal contribution I can make in the next 10 years in the fight against climate change?

“‘What am I going to do in the next decade that means I can look my children in the eye and say that I did my bit?’ Every aspect of the prize bears the stamp of his contribution”.

The duke’s vision for The Earthshot Prize was born in September 2018 during a visit to Namibia.

Prince William announced in June that the awards ceremony will take place at Alexandra Palace in London

In the introduction to an official book to accompany the prize, he wrote: “You might be wondering how I went from a 5am start to catch a fleeting glimpse of a shy black rhino in the north-west corner of Namibia, to building a team to deliver the most ambitious environmental prize in history.

“The answer lies in a crucial disconnect this visit clarified for me, between the optimism and determination I saw on the ground, and the despair and anger that would come to dominate headlines just a few weeks later.

“The rich wildlife that I saw thriving on that visit struck a real chord. The community conservancy model is a prime example of how a simple, positive solution can have wide-reaching benefits for both humans and nature.

“Most importantly of all, it is a success story that can be replicated and scaled. I wanted to find a way to bottle that innovation and community spirit and mass-produce it globally”.

William, who has inherited a passion for protecting the environment from his father and grandfather, feared the issue of tackling climate change was becoming “too complex, too negative, too overwhelming”.

Writing in Earthshot: How to Save Our Planet, he said: “The facts look terrifying, and I could see that this risked making people feel like they might as well give up”.

He added: “I started thinking about what to do to change the equation to something else: urgency + optimism = action”.

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The idea for the Earthshot Prize was inspired by President John F Kennedy’s 1962 ambition of putting man on the moon within a decade.

William said: “I wanted to recapture Kennedy’s Moonshot spirit of human ingenuity, purpose and optimism, and turn it with laser-sharp focus and urgency on to the most pressing challenge of our time – repairing our planet”.

Every year from 2021 until the end of the decade, winners in five categories will be selected by the duke and a judging panel with the hope that their ideas “will improve life for us all”.

The categories are Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-free World, and Fix our Climate.