William and Kate hand out £1 million to five Earthshot prize winners 'to overcome our planet's biggest challenges'

3 December 2022, 00:14

The Earthshot winners have been announced
The Earthshot winners have been announced. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Prince William and Kate Middleton have given prizes of £1 million ($1.2 million) each to five winners of the Earthshot prize, to help protect the environment.

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The winning projects, announced at a glitzy gala in Boston in the US on Friday night, included a scheme by childhood friends in Oman to turn potentially harmful carbon dioxide into rock.

The other winners came from the UK, Kenya, Australia and India.

Prince William said during the ceremony at the MGM Music Hall: "I believe that the Earthshot solutions you have seen this evening prove we can overcome our planet's greatest challenges."

"By supporting and scaling them we can change our future."

The five winners came in separate categories, focusing on air pollution, agriculture, waste reduction, the oceans and climate change.

Clean our Air

Mukuru Clean Stoves, Kenya – This is a start-up that provides women in Kenya with cleaner-burning stoves, aiming to cut pollution indoors and help people cook more safely.

Charlot Magayi, CEO of Clean Stoves
Charlot Magayi, CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves. Picture: Earthshot

Protect and Restore Nature

Kheyti, India – A 'Greenhouse in a box' that helps local smallholder farmers in India protect their crops from extreme weather and pests.

The Kheyti team
The Kheyti team. Picture: Earthshot

Revive our Oceans

Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – A programme that has trained more than 60 women in conserving the coral reef with both traditional and digital methods.

Revive Our Oceans founders
Revive Our Oceans founders. Picture: Earthshot

Build a Waste-free World

Notpla, United Kingdom – A circular solution creating an alternative to plastic packaging from seaweed.

Notpla is tackling plastic waste
Notpla is tackling plastic waste. Picture: Earthshot

Fix our Climate:

44.01, Oman – Created by childhood friends who have created a system for turn carbon dioxide into rock, so it can then be permanently stored underground.

Talal Hasan
Talal Hasan. Picture: Earthshot

44.01's founder Talal Hasan said: "The answers to the problems our planet faces can often be found in the natural world. At 44.01, we have found a natural process that removes carbon and we’ve accelerated it.

"We believe this process is replicable globally and can play a key role in helping our planet to heal."

The ceremony was not shown live, but will be broadcast at 5.30pm on Sunday on the BBC in the UK, and on Monday in the US.

Several celebrities, including David Beckham, Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek and pop singer Ellie Goulding, attended the show and walked the 'green carpet' on Friday night.

David Beckham at Earthshot
David Beckham at Earthshot. Picture: Getty
Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding. Picture: Getty
Rami Malek at Earthshot
Rami Malek at Earthshot. Picture: Getty

This is the second year of the Earthshot prize, which was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy's 'Moonshot' speech, committing to the lunar landings.

It will run until 2030, with five winners getting £1 million every year until then.

A panel including Sir David Attenborough, Cate Blanchett and footballer Dani Alves chose this year's winners from a shortlist of 15 contenders.

The winners were given their awards by William and Kate at the ceremony.

The event, the culmination of a three-day trip in the US, has been partly overshadowed by a race scandal at home, after William's godmother, Lady Susan Hussey, repeatedly asked a black British charity boss at a Buckingham Palace event where she was from.

Lady Susan has since apologised and stepped down from her role as a companion to the Queen Consort.

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A reverend appeared to make a subtle reference to the scandal at the first event after William and Kate arrived in Boston on Wednesday,

Reverend Mariama White-Hammond spoke about the legacies of colonialism and racism at the event, although she later said she was unaware of the palace race scandal when she made the remarks.

Read more: Smiling Wills and Kate walk with US reverend who reminded them of 'racist legacy' amid palace race row

William and Kate later met up with the Reverend again for a walk along Boston's shoreline, to learn about the effects of rising sea levels on the coast.

Their visit has also coincided with the release of an explosive trailer for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix documentary, called 'Harry and Meghan'.

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Images of William and Kate appear in the short clip, suggesting there may be material in the film that is difficult for the relationship between the two couples.

But neither William nor Kate have personally addressed the issues, although their spokesperson condemned Lady Susan's comments.

Read more: Lady Susan Hussey offers to meet campaigner to apologise for asking her: 'What part of Africa are you from?'

Read more: 'A declaration of war': Fury as Harry and Meghan release documentary trailer during Kate and William's US tour

And they appear to have been relatively relaxed on the trip so far, despite having been booed at a basketball game.

William went to the JFK Presidential Library on Friday afternoon to learn about JFK's Moonshot speec, and met President Joe Biden. Kate went to Harvard in the meantime to learn about the research they are carrying out on children's education.