Solomon Islands and the world awake today (Wednesday 1 January 2020) to a new year and a new decade in which humanity risk irreparably damaging the Earth with climate change inaction.
His Royal Highness Prince William spoke on the eve of the New Year and gave a stark warning about the future of the planet.
The Prince’s dramatic intervention came as Britain recorded its hottest December day and unprecedented wikdfires are tearing across drought stricken Australia,
Thousands of people were trapped on a beach in Australia on Tuesday in what has been one of the worst days so far in the country’s fire crisis, with two people killed and five missing.
Wildfires encircled the seaside town of Mallacoota, Victoria, leaving some 4,000 people stranded on the beach or taking to the sea in small boats.
The Australian Defence Force said it was sending air and sea vehicles to Victoria to help with evacuations.
Quoting from an article in the UK Daily Mail published today, 1 January 2020, the Prince launched what was described as the ‘Earthshot Prize’ to be awarded to those who have found solutions in what the palace says is a push for ‘fresh optimism and action’ to replace the ‘current pessimism around the environment’.
The prize will be funded by private donors and by William and Kate’s Royal Foundation, the umbrella organisation for the couple’s charitable work.
Already more than 60 organisations and experts have been consulted to develop the prize.
Colin Butfield, executive director of the World Wide Fund for Nature, welcomed the initiative, saying: “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.”
Dr M Sanjayan, chief executive of Conservation International, added: “We have a very small window – ten years – to jolt earth onto a path of sustainability.
“It can sound terrifying – or it can sound like one of history’s greatest opportunities.
“Yes, the challenges are daunting. But how we react is still, in this sliver of time left, entirely up to us – and that is what the Earthshot Prize is all about. It’s about this opportunity in front of us, right now, to choose to put our energies toward taking action and uncovering solutions, to choose to create the future we want over settling for the one that we fear.”
What is the Earthshot prize?
The Earthshot prize will be awarded to 5 winners per year over 10 years.
It is understood that millions of pounds will be given away each year to prize winners.
The Prize could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving these environmental challenges.
In addition to a significant financial award, winners will receive large-scale public recognition for their work that will aim to inspire business and government collaboration and scaling.
Challenges will be announced at special events around the world, with different cities each year hosting the award ceremony.
The scheme aims to challenge problem-solvers to find solutions to some of the globe’s biggest environmental problems.
More details about the prize will be released in the New Year.
It is hoped that the Earthshot Prize will equal the Nobel Peace Prize within a few years in terms of its significance.
A royal aide said: ‘”The picture looks very bleak at the moment, but William was keen harness the optimism that clearly exists throughout the world as well as all that innovation and talent, too. And this doesn’t just apply to big corporations or academic institutions. This is about individuals, school and communities. Earthshot is open to anyone and everyone.”