The first 5 winners of the prestigious new global environmental prize, the ‘Earthshot Prize’, were announced last night at a televised, star-studded awards ceremony at Alexandra Palace in London this week.
Kicking off the ceremony was legendary band, Coldplay, who powered their set with 60 exercise bikes, and the inspirational Sir David Attenborough, who delivered his powerful opening speech to the captivated audience, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
But what is the Earthshot Prize? And who are the 2021 winners? We break it down for you here!
What is the Earthshot Prize?
The prize looks to reward people and projects across the world that are trying to save the planet, under five key categories: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix Our Climate. There will be one winner in each category, every year for a decade, providing at least 50 planetary solutions as selected by the Earthshot Prize Council. Members include Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, Shakira and Yao Ming.
What do they win?
Each winner is awarded £1million to put towards their project and accelerate their positive impact for the planet. This is funded by the Duke of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation.
Who were the winners for 2021?
Protect & Restore Nature – The Republic of Costa Rica
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. Costa Rica’s forests doubled in size! They believe 30% of the world’s land and oceans could be protected this way too. Winning The Earthshot Prize will help them to share knowledge and practices globally, especially in the Global South.
Clean Our Air – Takachar, India
Takachar has developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms. The machine converts crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertilizer. Takachar’s technology reduces smoke emissions by up to 98% which will help improve the air quality that currently reduces the affected population’s life expectancy by up to 5 years.
Revive Our Oceans – Coral Vita, Bahamas
Ocean warming and acidification are set to destroy over 90% of reefs by 2050. A year after Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern launched Coral Vita’s first facility in Grand Bahama, Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm. Coral Vita, which grows coral on land to replant in oceans, gives new life to dying ecosystems. Its methods grow coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods and improves resilience to the impact of climate change. As well as restoring reefs, Teicher and Halpern work with local communities, public officials, and private companies to improve education, create new job prospects, and build a model to inject more funding into environmental protection.
Build a Waste-Free World – The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs
The City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs tackle two problems in one. Launched in 2019 with the aim of halving waste by 2030, each hub recovers food mainly from supermarkets and companies’ canteens and gives it to NGOs who distribute it to the neediest citizens. Milan is the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses, and creates a blueprint that can be scaled throughout the world.
Fix Our Climate – AEM Electrolyser
Enapter provides a clean alternative. Its AEM Electrolyser technology turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. Funding from winning The Earthshot Prize will help to scale mass production, which is planned to begin in 2022. By 2050, Enapter’s vision is to account for 10% of the world’s hydrogen generation.
Congratulations to the winners, and other nominees! You can read more about all the shortlisted projects and finalists here!