Prince William: Young people could be 'champions of environmental change'

6 February 2021, 22:03

Prince William joined people at a Young Champions of the Earth event
Prince William joined people at a Young Champions of the Earth event. Picture: Kensington Palace
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Young people could be the champions of environmental change in homes across the globe, Prince William has suggested.

The Duke of Cambridge's comment came as he chatted to young activists recognised by a United Nations initiative. He highlighted how the next generation could educate their families about the "environmental impact" of their actions.

Seven young people have been named 2020 Young Champions of the Earth by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and William told them they could "easily be in the mix" for his Earthshot Prize.

Nzambi Matee, from Kenya, who manufactures sustainable building materials, told the duke it was hard to change the attitudes of older people, although her grandmother had adopted sustainability easily.

She laughed: "If we can convince my grandmother not to use plastic bags, we can do anything."

The Duke of Cambridge joined seven young environmentalists from the UN Environment Programme's Young Champions of the Earth initiative
The Duke of Cambridge joined seven young environmentalists from the UN Environment Programme's Young Champions of the Earth initiative. Picture: Kensington Palace

The duke agreed, saying the next generation did not have to start ambitious projects like the seven recognised by the UN to "do their bit".

"If every young person educates their family on the environmental impact they are having," he added, "that in turn is making a difference, and changing the tide, and creating that momentum."

William launched his ambitious £50 million Earthshot Prize project in the autumn with his Royal Foundation and it aims to recognise solutions, ideas and technologies that "repair the planet".

UNEP is a global alliance partner of the duke's project and shares its mission to incentivise change and inspire the public to safeguard the natural world.

Among the Young Champions of the Earth are an engineer who turns plastic rubbish into paving stones and an activist fighting to save endangered salmon. All will receive more than £7,000 in seed funding and tailored training to help scale up their ideas.

As the group told the duke about their various initiatives during a video call on Wednesday, he said he was "hugely honoured" to speak to such "brilliant young people doing such fantastic things".

Prince William has been an advocate on environmental issues for years
Prince William has been an advocate on environmental issues for years. Picture: PA Images

He added: "There's a lot of opportunity in the environmental space. If young people have a tiny bit of that passion - that you have clearly shown a lot of - then there's a really good opportunity to find your feet and find a way and do good in the environmental world.

"You are the shining lights of that movement and that interest. It allows people to see your path, your journey and go 'do you know what, I want some of that, I can do that, I've got some ideas too.'"

William told the group about his Earthshot Prize explaining that it had been launched to "bring hope and optimism back to the environment debate" and to "try and encourage change through hope and action rather than pessimism and despair".

"Why do you think the optimism part, which I felt very strongly about, is so important?" he asked.

Lefteris Arapakis, from Greece, who co-founded an organisation that teaches sustainable fishing, said the pandemic had "changed everything".

He added: "I am from a family of fishermen and every year for the last 20 years we get less fish, my family has less and less of everything.

"Personally, I believe that we can make the change, because if we don't believe that, we can just give up. It's our only choice. Optimism is our main weapon against the climate crisis."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

England lost to Spain in the Euro 2024 final

England's heartbreak as Spanish goal four minutes from time seals Euro 2024 final defeat

Prince William and Prince George at the Euro 2024 final

Smiling Prince George attends Euro 2024 final with Prince William as England face off against Spain

Kate with Charlotte at Wimbledon

Princess Kate looks radiant in purple as she presents Wimbledon trophy at men's final

Corey Comperatore was killed during the Trump rally attack.

Pictured: Man killed in shooting at Trump rally as he 'tried to shield family from bullets'

Carlos Alcaraz has retained his Wimbledon title

Carlos Alcaraz retains Wimbledon title as he beats Novak Djokovic for second year in a row

England are facing Spain in the final

England 1-2 Spain: Heartbreak for England as Spain win Euros 2024

Melania Trump shared an emotional statement on the incident

Melania Trump breaks silence after attempted assassination of husband Donald at rally

The wife and two daughters of racing commentator John Hunt were killed at their Hertfordshire home

Bereaved racing commentator John Hunt has fundraiser set up after wife and two daughters killed

Princess Kate has made just her second appearance since her cancer diagnosis - as she prepares to bestow the Wimbledon men's singles trophy at the All England Club.

Princess Kate arrives at Wimbledon as crowd applauds for royal's second engagement since cancer shock

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

‘We will FEAR NOT’: Trump urges Americans to ‘stay united’ after attempted assassination

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima allegedly 'spat, kicked and berated' Zara McDermott before sacking

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., on Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gunshots and a defiant fist: How the first attempted assassination against a Presidential candidate in 52 years unfolded

What will following the shooting of Donald Trump?

Donald Trump shot during campaign rally: Jon Sopel explains what it means for the US Presidential race

The nation is gripped by Euros fever

England expects! Nation gripped by Euros fever as fans prepare for historic final against Spain

Donald Trump has been shot through the ear at a rally in Pennsylvania - as one bystander was killed and two others were critically injured.

Pictured: Shocking scenes as gunman shoots Donald Trump during rally leaving one bystander dead

Liz Truss has reacted to her party's terrible election results

Liz Truss blames Tory election drubbing on Rishi Sunak ‘trashing her record’ before pointing finger at Tony Blair