Over the last ten years, the evidence that we face urgent challenges to protect the environment has become indisputable, and it’s clear that the time to act is now. In response, The Royal Foundation and Prince William launched The Earthshot Prize, the most prestigious global prize for the environment in history.
The Earthshot Prize is awarded to five winners each year for their contributions to environmentalism. It was first awarded in 2021 and is planned to run annually until 2030. Each winner receives a grant of £1 million to continue their environmental work.
Here, we round up the winners for 2022!
Fix Our Climate Winner: 44.01
Named after the molecular weight of carbon dioxide, 44.01 removes CO2 permanently by mineralising it in peridotite, a rock found in abundance in Oman as well as in America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. Peridotite mineralisation is a natural process, but in nature it can take many years to mineralise even a small amount of CO2. 44.01 accelerates the process by pumping carbonated water into seams of peridotite deep underground.
Build a Waste-Free World Winner: Notpla
At the London Marathon in 2019 36,000 Notpla-made Oohos, filled with Lucozade, were handed to runners. This year, Notpla has made over 1 million takeaway food boxes for Just Eat Takeaway.com, with the potential to replace over 100 million plastic coated containers in Europe in the future. The company is continuing to research and develop new formats and solutions, with flexible films and rigid materials in the pipeline. Notpla’s impact is wide and varied. Seaweed farmed for its production captures carbon twenty-times faster than trees, addressing one of the key causes of the climate crisis. The packaging itself means less plastic clogging our seas, reducing ocean waste. Meanwhile, farms boost fish population and seaweed farming creates new opportunities for fishing communities.
Revive Our Oceans Winner: Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef
Faced by a warming planet, the Great Barrier Reef, lying in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, is under constant threat. On land, meanwhile, flora and fauna are ravaged by increasingly regular bushfires. The region’s indigenous rangers are vital to its defence. Their work brings together ancient knowledge, passed down from generation to generation, with most modern tools, like drones that monitor coral changes, forest fires and land degradation. Yet in Queensland only 20% of indigenous rangers, are women. That’s where the Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network comes in. Over the past four years, the network has helped build the next generation of women rangers.
The programme has trained over 60 women, encouraging new conservation approaches by sharing knowledge and telling stories. Members of the network have gone on to find work as rangers in Queensland or in conservation elsewhere. Their work is vital. The data they have collected has given us critical insight into one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. As custodians of the land, the rangers have also protected sites of great cultural and spiritual significance.
Clean Our Air Winner: Mukuru Clean Stoves
Growing up in Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, for years Charlot Magayi sold charcoal for fuel. That charcoal was the cause of regular respiratory infections for her and her neighbours. Then, in 2012, her daughter was severely burnt by a charcoal-burning stove. Seeking a better solution, in 2017 she founded Mukuru Clean Stoves. Rather than burning dangerous solid fuels, Mukuru Clean Stoves use processed biomass made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane. This burns cleaner, creating 90 percent less pollution than an open fire and 70 percent less than a traditional cookstove. They are cheaper too, costing just $10 and halving ongoing fuel costs.
Protect and Restore Nature Winner: Kheyti
India is home to 100 million small-hold farmers and the nation is one of the most climate-affected in the world. This year it recorded its earliest and one of its fiercest heatwaves on record, slashing harvests when the world was already beset by food shortages. Kheyti, an Indian startup, has developed a simple solution that is already having a considerable impact. Its Greenhouse-in-a-Box is designed for small-hold farmers and the crops they grow, offering shelter from unpredictable elements and destructive pests. Kheyti also trains and supports farmers to ensure their greenhouse is as effective as possible.
Information and details compiled from Earthshot Prize.