Sat | Feb 22, 2020

Prince William announces ‘a decade of action’ to repair the Earth

Published:Friday | January 3, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
In this file photo dated Thursday, December 12, 2019, a man looks up as police and fire personnel move in to remove climate activists and their banner after they climbed the Europa building during a demonstration outside an EU summit meeting in Brussels. Massive challenges lay ahead for the European Union in 2020 as the impact of climate change seems likely to drive the bloc’s thinking and policy initiatives over the coming years.
1
2
3

At a time when serious action is needed to halt the pessimism around the climate change issue, Prince William is kick-starting 2020 with a new drive to dispel the current approach and replace it with fresh optimism and action across the spread of the new decade.

Drawing inspiration from the concept of Moonshots, which, since the moon landing in 1969, has become shorthand for the most ambitious and groundbreaking goals, Prince William announced The Earthshot Prize: an ambitious set of challenges initiating global, cross-sector action to repair the planet.

In what is set to be a ‘super year’ for the environment, with crucial summits, including the Convention on Biodiversity in China and the COP26 Climate Change Conference in the United Kingdom (UK), Prince William will team up with global partners on a decade-long project that reaches every corner of the Earth.

The new initiative, which has been under development for more than a year, will refocus global attention on finding answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet, including climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution, and fresh water.

The prize will encourage people to do more, to find new solutions that work on every level that will have a positive effect on environmental change and improve living standards globally, particularly for communities that are most at risk from climate change.

By awarding innovation and transformational change, the prize aims to inspire collaborative projects that would not otherwise have been pursued, sparking a global movement that encourages governments, businesses, and communities to prioritise environmental issues.

GREATEST TEST

“The Earth is at a tipping point, and we face a stark choice. Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate, and problem solve,” Prince William said.

“Remember the awe-inspiring civilisations that we have built, the life-saving technology we have created, the fact that we have put a man on the Moon. People can achieve great things. The next 10 years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth”.

A set of unique challenges, rooted in science, will aim to generate new ways of thinking as well as new technologies, systems, policies, and solutions. Just as the Moonshot that John F. Kennedy proposed in the 1960s catalysed new technology, such as the MRI scanner and satellite dishes, the Earthshot aims to launch its own tidal wave of ambition and innovation.

British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad says that the initiative comes at the best possible time, with climate change topping the UK’s agenda and the global damage to the natural environment now at dangerous levels.

“Urgent action and creative thinking are required to reverse this damage to our shared space. We want to reach out across the globe to find solutions,” said Ahmad.

JAMAICAN INGENUITY

Ahmad said further that climate change presents a unique set of challenges to small island developing states such as Jamaica because of its vulnerability and limited resources. On land, sea, and air, there are clear signs of degradation that have to be addressed.

“We need Jamaican ingenuity to lead the region in finding solutions to our greatest environmental problems. Whether you are here in Jamaica or part of the great diaspora, there is a chance for you to be an Earthshot winner,” the high commissioner said.

The Earthshot aims to reward progress across all sectors of industry and society, not just technology. The prize could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams, or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a significant contribution to solving these environmental challenges.

In addition to a significant financial award, five winners per year will receive large-scale public recognition for their work, which will aim to inspire business and government collaboration.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com