Prince William shares why he is a “stubborn optimist” about the future of our planet

Prince William shares why he is a “stubborn optimist” about the future of our planet

  • US News
  • December 2, 2022
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i am an optimist A stubborn optimist.

I believe in the power of human ingenuity and am very excited to bring the Earthshot Prize to the United States

This week in Boston, we want to show what we can all do to help put the world on the path to a stable climate where communities, nature and oceans thrive in harmony.

Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy captured the imagination of this great nation when he uttered words that were just as inspirational in 2022 as they were on that bright sunny day in Houston in 1962: “We have chosen to go to the moon this decade to fly and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are difficult.”

We face a seemingly insurmountable challenge as putting a man on the moon: undoing the damage done to our planet and moving towards a more sustainable future.

That’s why I created the Earthshot Prize. Inspired by President Kennedy’s Moonshot, this global environmental award scours the planet to discover, celebrate and scale breakthrough solutions to our planet’s greatest challenges.

Each year we will award the best solutions in five “Earthshot” categories with over $1 million for each awardee to expand their work. These are solutions that: protect and restore nature, revitalize our oceans, clean our air, create a waste-free world, and fix our climate.

Today, the 2022 winning cohort will be unveiled at the second annual awards ceremony, being held in Boston — the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy, a world-renowned center for scientific research and innovation, and a city committed to leadership in climate renewal.

What sets the Earthshot Prize apart is not only our passionate focus on telling the stories of those working to fix our planet, but also our commitment to connecting all of our finalists, not just the winners, to our Global Alliance – a network of philanthropists and corporate executives, entrepreneurs and strategic experts who share our vision and can truly optimize these solutions to change the course of our future.

If it sounds ambitious, optimistic and hopeful, then it is.

And it is President Kennedy’s words that have given us so much inspiration as he continued: “…this challenge we are willing to accept, not willing to put off, and we intend to win it.”

That optimistic ambition is the foundation of everything the Earthshot Prize stands for.

Fixing our planet won’t be easy, but taking action to protect our natural world is undeniable.

Every day we learn a new fact, figure, or reach an alarming milestone that marks our seemingly unstoppable – and fast – march toward climate catastrophe.

Just this year, we learned that the planet’s wildlife populations have declined by an average of 69% in less than 50 years; unprecedented rains in Pakistan led to record flooding that claimed thousands of lives; the Horn of Africa faces its fifth consecutive rainy season in an area where drought has already displaced 1.1 million people; and the United States has suffered 15 weather or climate-related disasters with losses in excess of $1 billion each. In my home country, mercury hit 104 Fahrenheit for the first time in history this summer.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how people can feel overwhelmed, pessimistic, and fatalistic.

But there is reason for hope.

During the same period, our 2021 finalists and winners made incredible gains. The Republic of Costa Rica has expanded its protected marine area from 3% of its marine territory to 30% and has partnered with Restor, another 2021 Earthshot finalist, to track their progress toward their COP26 deforestation pledge. Coral Vita, a coral restoration project off the coast of Grand Bahama, has planted more than 6,000 coral fragments around the world and is laying the groundwork for the first-ever commercial coral farm on land. Additional funding of $20 million was secured by Pristine Seas, a 2021 finalist, to explore, document and explore the Pacific Ocean over the next five years so we can better protect our oceans; and Nairobi-based Sanergy, which turns sanitation waste into fertilizer, has secured over $50 million in mixed equity and grant funding, making it both the largest producer and seller of organic fertilizer in the region, and recipient of the largest Individual investment in the circular economy of East Africa.

This momentum is the result of just five of the 15 Earthshot finalists in 2021.

You are living proof that the solutions we need exist and that there are brilliant people around the world working tirelessly to reverse the current climate path.

The Earthshot Prize wants to find the best of them. We want to celebrate and support them so that we not only amplify their positive impact, but also show a desperate world that there is an optimistic way forward.

The pivotal years of the Moonshot, during which tremendous scientific and technological advances were made, were proof that seemingly impossible goals are achievable if we only harness the boundless power of innovation, human ingenuity and urgent optimism. Let’s not forget the wave of innovation that Moonshot unleashed, driving social and economic progress in the US for decades.

Dire predictions about our natural world are not the only side of this story, and they need not be our future.

In this critical decade, I invite you all to be optimistic, support the game changers and believe in the power of human ingenuity.

Prince William has long been an advocate for preserving the natural world. He has led international efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade through United for Wildlife, helped push through an ivory ban in the UK, and continues to support many global initiatives focused on protecting and ending human-wildlife conflict. However, he believes we must redouble our efforts over the next decade if we are to be successful in our fight to protect the planet. The Earthshot Prize was created after two years of work by Prince William and the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales to develop a project to support global efforts to protect and restore the environment. The Earthshot Prize aims not only to identify evidence-based solutions to the planet’s biggest environmental problems, but also to transform current pessimism about environmental problems into optimism that we can tackle the biggest challenges of our time.

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