As Kate Middleton recovers from surgery, Prince William resumes his numerous public duties like hosting an investiture at Windsor Castle and attending an evening reception. Closer to home, his Earthshot Prize, dedicated to finding and scaling innovative solutions to environmental issues is gearing up to launch in Cape Town this November. Earthshot Week 2024 will be a five-day extravaganza, culminating in the Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony that recognises the remarkable efforts of fifteen environmental pioneers worldwide.
Prince William founded the Earthshot Prize in 2020 and incubated it in The Royal Foundation for a year before allowing it to become its own entity. The prestigious prize was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot initiative, which ultimately contributed to the success of the Apollo 11 mission. While the moon landing has its own set of problematic environmental implications, one undeniable thing is its historical impact on space exploration. Hoisting his proposal upon such an iconic legacy shows just how steep the Prince’s ambitions are.
His Royal Highness’ Prize seeks to catalyze efforts towards a stable climate by 2030 through a dedicated discovery of 50 winners over a decade and scaling of impactful solutions through contributions from expert partners. The Earthshot Prize’s discovery and support of innovative climate and environmental solutions will contribute to the protection and restoration of our beloved planet. The Prize focuses on five ‘Earthshots’, ambitious goals designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of Earth’s communities, oceans, and ecosystems.
The Earthshot Prize has already seen a significant impact through its first three cohorts of finalists, with over 1.5 million people benefiting directly from their solutions. These initiatives have protected or restored thousands of hectares of land and ocean and reduced over 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. As the prize matures, we are beginning to see tangible results, which could instil significant faith in its impact on our future.
The decision to bring Earthshot Week to Cape Town rightfully underlines Africa’s importance in the global battle against climate change. As with many manmade mishaps, people of African descent are in overwhelming danger. Despite contributing the least to global warming, the continent is the most vulnerable to its dire impacts. According to the World Meteorological Organization, in 2022 alone, over 110 million people in Africa were directly affected by weather, climate, and water-related hazards.
Knowing about the ever-looming threat is vital, but avoiding the typical doomsday rhetoric that often surrounds climate change discussions could also be beneficial because there is hope. The truth is that Africa is a hotbed of creativity and innovation and it comes as no surprise that nearly 800 nominees for this year’s Earthshot Prize are from the continent. These nominees represent a diverse range of solutions aimed at addressing Africa’s unique environmental challenges while inspiring an optimistic drive for change worldwide.
As much as it’s aimed at raising awareness for an urgent crisis, this is also a celebratory initiative. The Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony promises to be the highlight of Earthshot Wee, featuring an evening of stunning storytelling and star-studded performances, in honour of the work of the fifteen Earthshot Prize finalists. After the ceremony, Earthshot+ will present insightful talks that amplify the potential impact of the Prize’s winners and finalists.
The annual Earthshot Fellowship Retreat, also to be hosted in Cape Town during Earthshot Week, will kickstart the yearlong Earthshot Prize Fellowship Programme. This program provides crucial support to the Prize’s finalists, including mentorship, resources, and technical assistance, to help scale their solutions and drive meaningful change. In this way, Earthshot Week will not only acknowledge achievements but lay the groundwork for future success.
Hannah Jones, CEO of The Earthshot Prize, emphasises the urgency of the decade ahead: “This is the Earthshot Decade, a decade in which we must, by 2030, reduce CO2 emissions by over 40% and protect 30% of nature, oceans, and freshwater. The nominations to The Earthshot Prize remind us that human ingenuity, grit, and determination can turn the seemingly impossible into the new normal.”
In addition to strong support from a Global Alliance of Partners, The Earthshot Prize has also partnered with MultiChoice Group (MCG). With over 30 years of experience providing entertainment to 22 million households across 50 African countries through platforms like DStv, GOtv, and Showmax, MCG is committed to amplifying the urgent message of climate change and spotlighting African solutions. Imtiaz Patel, MCG Chairman, said “MultiChoice is well positioned to inspire and galvanize innovators, corporate partners, and governments to prioritise sustainable solutions.”
But big corporations like Multichoice are not the only ones that can contribute to this noble cause. There are a myriad of opportunities to participate in the green revolution, some of which will be offered during this year’s Earthshot Week in Cape Town. As we await the unveiling of the 2024 Earthshot Prize Finalists in September, we also anticipate a fitting fête of future-focused innovation and collaboration. This kind of inspiring initiative allows young Africans to openly hope for not only a more sustainable, but brilliantly brighter tomorrow.