Prince William's Earthshot prize speech: Hope remains despite climate crisis becoming ‘too visible to ignore’

Prince William's Earthshot prize speech: Hope remains despite climate crisis becoming ‘too visible to ignore’

The Prince of Wales has said “hope does remain” after the effects of the climate crisis became “too visible to be ignored”, during his speech at the third annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony.

William met a host of celebrities on the green carpet at the MediaCorp Theatre in Singapore on Tuesday evening before giving a speech during the awards – aimed at recognising solutions to “repair” the planet.

The prince was wearing a blazer by Alexander McQueen which has been part of his wardrobe for 10 years. He previously wore it for the inaugural Earthshot Awards in 2021. i

Accion Andina, GRST, WildAid Marine Program, S4S Technologies, and Boomitra were named this year’s winners and will each receive £1 million to support efforts to scale their innovative climate and environmental solutions.

WildAid scales marine enforcement to end illegal fishing and strengthen ocean conservation. GRST has developed a new way to build and recycle lithium-ion batteries, which offers a pathway to make the electric cars of the future even cleaner.

During his speech, William said: “The last year has been one of great change and even greater challenge.

“A year in which the effects of the climate crisis have become too visible to be ignored.

“And a year that has left so many feeling defeated, their hope dwindling.

“However, as we have seen tonight, hope does remain. The light of optimism is burning bright in our Earthshot finalists.

“From Boomitra, S4S, and Accion Andina, to GRST and Wildaid Marine, our winners and all our finalists remind us that no matter where you are on our planet, the spirit of ingenuity, and the ability to inspire change, surrounds us all.”

Cate Blanchett stands with the Prince of Wales as he arrives for the 2023 Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
Cate Blanchett stands with the Prince of Wales as he arrives for the 2023 Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

William said he chooses to believe future generations will “look back on this decade as the point at which we globally took collective action for our planet”.

He added: “The moment we refused to accept the voices of denial and defeatism, and instead became the architects of change towards a healthy and sustainable world.

“We owe it to the generations that will follow us to work together both for their future, and for the future of our planet.

“It is my belief that we will find the courage to do so. We will find the courage because we will hold onto the most powerful motivators of all – optimism and hope.”

Hosted by Emmy Award winner Hannah Waddingham and three-time Emmy Award winning actor and producer Sterling K Brown, the awards ceremony focused on the stories of all 15 finalists.

The event featured performances from Bastille and OneRepublic, while Cate Blanchett, Lana Condor, Robert Irwin, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Donnie Yen presented the awards, which were made with recycled materials, to the five winners.

Earthshot Prize Council member Sir David Attenborough also made a video appearance during the broadcast in which he said “we can live both well and responsibly on our planet”.

He added: “Tonight, we celebrate those who are leading the way to this better future.”

Robert Irwin, son of the late Australian wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin, praised William as an “incredibly inspiring leader” and said he is “making environmental issues mainstream” while on the green carpet before the ceremony.

And singer and songwriter Freya Ridings said she was a “genuine fan” of the Earthshot Prize and it was “so surreal” to be at the awards ceremony.

Former prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern also walked the green carpet after meeting the finalists on Sunday.

Accion Andina is a grassroots, community-based initiative working across South America to protect native high Andean forest ecosystems for their benefits to nature and millions of people in the region.

S4S Technologies’ solar-powered dryers and processing equipment to combat food waste, enabling small-hold farmers to preserve crops and turn produce that might otherwise go to waste into valuable products.

Boomitra are removing emissions and boosting farmer profits by incentivising land restoration through a verified carbon-credit marketplace.

Justin Hung, chief executive and co-founder of GRST, which won the Clean Our Air prize, said he was “super excited” to be a winner but the £1 million prize “comes with a responsibility”.

He added: “We all have to collectively use this £1 million to make the world better and safer.”

A global panel of 59 scientific, academic, and subject-matter experts chose this year’s class of 15 prize finalists from more than 1,100 nominations submitted from around the world.

The five winners were selected by the prince and the Earthshot Prize Council, which was chaired by Christiana Figueres DBE, architect of the Paris Agreement.

All 15 finalists will receive mentorship, resources, and technical support from the Earthshot Prize fellowship programme, a year-long programme to accelerate the growth of their groundbreaking solutions.

The 2023 Earthshot Prize awards ceremony will be broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom, PBS in the United States, various MultiChoice channels across Africa, Mediacorp’s Channel 5, mewatch and Mediacorp YouTube Entertainment Channel in Singapore, and on the Earthshot Prize’s YouTube channel in other territories around the world from Sunday November 12.