Fifteen finalists were on Friday named on the shortlist for Prince William’s Earthshot environmental prize to reward innovative solutions to the planet’s biggest problems.
They include an Indian teenager who has designed a solar-powered ironing cart, and Costa Rica, which is pioneering a project to pay people to restore natural ecosystems.
A clean energy project in Nigeria, a food waste hub in Milan, Italy, a coral replacement scheme in the Bahamas, and a clean air app from China are also on the list.
Five overall winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on October 17 and each will receive £1 million ($1.4 million, 1.2 million euros) to support their initiatives.
William called those on the shortlist for the inaugural award “innovators, leaders and visionaries”.
“They are working with the urgency required in this decisive decade for life on Earth and will inspire all of us with their optimism in our ability to rise to the greatest challenges in human history,” he said.
The Earthshot Prize, launched in October last year, was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy’s “Moonshot” project in the 1960s to put a man on the moon.
Each of the finalists — chosen by experts from more than 750 nominations — will be given help from leading private sector businesses to develop their projects.
They are competing in five areas: how to protect and restore nature; clean our air; revive our oceans; build a waste-free world; and fix our climate.
‘Extraordinary’ results in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Payment for Environmental Services (PSA) program has been instrumental in recovering the nation’s forest cover.
The Earthshot page about Costa Rica reads as follows:
Forests are home to half our plants and animals and three quarters of our birds. They suck carbon from the air and return the oxygen we breathe. Yet in 2020 more trees were felled than ever before, causing 10% of global warming.
In the 1990s, the vast forests of Costa Rica were devastated, half their former size. But the people of Costa Rica and their Ministry for Environment had a plan to save them. Its programmes paid citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems.
The results were extraordinary. Costa Rica’s forests doubled in size. Flora and fauna thrived which led to a boom in ecotourism, contributing $4 billion to the economy.
The government is now taking the approach to urban areas. It believes 30% of the world’s land and oceans could be protected this way too. Winning The Earthshot Prize would help it share knowledge and practices globally, especially in the Global South. Costa Rica’s motto is “pura vida” or “pure life”. Those words could soon echo across the world.