Prince William and Sir David Attenborough warn public: Earth is at 'tipping point'
The Earthshot Prize, created to encourage innovative solutions for the world’s biggest environmental problems, will be awarded to five winners each year for the next decade.
It aims to refocus global attention on issues around climate change, energy generation, protecting nature, cutting air pollution and ensuring supplies of drinking water.
Inspiration for the new prize was taken from a similar scheme, known as Moonshot, which was crucial in bringing about the 1969 lunar landing.
Announcing the initiative, the prince, who is second in line to the throne, said he wanted to begin 2020 with a new drive to dispel the current pessimism around the state of the earth and replace it with fresh optimism and action.
The Queen’s grandson also hopes to help build the biggest coalition of scientists, economists, activists, leaders, governments, businesses, philanthropists, cities and countries ever set up to tackle ecological issues.
Prince William said: “The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve.
“Remember the awe-inspiring civilisations that we have built, the life-saving technology we have created, the fact that we have put a man on the moon.
“People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests - a decade of action to repair the earth.”
TV presenter and naturalists Sir David Attenborough has welcomed the new prize.
In a special film made to launch the initiative, he said: "The spirit of the Moonshot can guide us today as we confront the serious challenges we face on earth.
“This year Prince William and a global alliance launch the most prestigious environment prize in history. The Earthshot Prize. A global prize designed to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers to think differently. Visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time.”
Colin Butfield, executive director of conservation group WWF, said: “Advances in science, technology and global communications mean we now know with astonishing detail what happens if we don’t reverse the damage to our planet.
“But what if we use those same advances to change direction?
“In just ten years we can go from fear to hope, from disaster to discovery and from inertia to inspiration. The Earthshot Prize challenges us all to make this the decade that we build a future to be proud of.”