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An agritech startup that helps female farmers in India to cut food waste using solar-powered dehydration equipment is among the five green innovations to scoop the Prince of Wales’ prestigious Earthshot Prize.
The winners of the annual eco-awards were revealed on Tuesday evening at a star-studded ceremony at the Theatre at MediaCorp in Singapore.
Each will walk away with £1 million (around $1.2 million) to scale up their pioneering projects.
Prince William and his Royal Foundation launched the ambitious 10-year initiative in 2020, with the goal of funding 50 solutions to some of the planet’s most urgent environmental problems by 2030.
“I choose to believe that future generations will look back on this decade as the point at which we globally took collective action for our planet — 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,” William said during the ceremony.
The 2023 Earthshot Prize winners:
This year’s winners were chosen from a shortlist of 15 finalists by Prince William and the Earthshot Prize Council, chaired by Christiana Figueres, a former UN climate chief, who played a key role in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Other members of the judging panel include Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, activist Ernest Gibson and Alibaba founder Jack Ma among others.
The competition is based around five “Earthshots,” or environmental goals. This year’s winners are:
• Protect and Restore Nature: Acción Andina, from Peru. The grassroots project is working in South America to protect native forest ecosystems across the Andes.
• Clean Our Air: GRST, from Hong Kong. The start-up has developed a new process for making and recycling lithium-ion batteries, paving the way “to make the electric cars of the future even cleaner.”
• Revive Our Oceans: WildAid Marine Program, a global organization with US-based headquarters. The non-profit combines “partnership building and knowledge sharing” to support the planet’s ocean conservation needs.
• Build a Waste-Free World: S4S Technologies from India. The agritech start-up uses its solar-powered dehydration equipment to cut food waste and help farmers process excess crops into products with a longer shelf life.
• Fix Our Climate: Boomitra, a global organization with US-based headquarters. The company is “removing emissions and boosting farmer profits by incentivizing land restoration” through the creation of its soil carbon marketplace.
Nidhi Pant, co-founder of S4S Technologies, told CNN winning an Earthshot Prize would allow her company to make “bolder moves.”
WildAid Marine Program Director Emily Owen said her initiative’s win offered the conservation organization “an opportunity to reach more leaders [and] to protect more priority marine areas around the world — including vital blue carbon habitats such as mangroves and seagrasses.”
Prize offers ‘hope’
“Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham and American actor Sterling K. Brown co-hosted the glitzy night, while Academy Award-winning actor and Earthshot Prize council member Cate Blanchett, South African actress Nomzamo Mbatha and wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin were among the celebrity presenters who joined the 41-year-old royal to announce the winners.
The show also featured musical performances from Bastille, supported by the Voices of Singapore choral society, and OneRepublic, who performed their hits “Counting Stars” and “I Ain’t Worried.”
Speaking to CNN on the green carpet ahead of the awards ceremony, Irwin said the incentivized award scheme was “probably the greatest recognition of positive change being made in the environmental space.”
“It is so encouraging to see because I feel like far too often, particularly in my generation, we hear about all of the horrible things happening on our planet,” said the 19-year-old Australian son of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.
Irwin added that the Earthshot Prize offers “hope,” which “is something we all need to hang on to.”
Figueres, who is also an Earthshot Prize trustee, told CNN that it was “such a joy” to work with the Prince of Wales.
“He does this because he really truly believes in it. He is passionate about this,” she said. “He is very demanding of all of us. He does his homework, and he always comes to our working meetings with difficult questions that push us beyond where we are.”
The Earthshot Prize awards ceremony is the highlight of the Prince of Wales’ four-day trip to Singapore, which ends on Wednesday.
Hours before the ceremony, William spent some time catching up with the finalists beneath a canopy of solar-powered “supertrees” at Gardens by the Bay. The prince said he was “thrilled” to be in Singapore for the third Earthshot Prize ceremony and outlined his vision for supporting this year’s shortlist of finalists.
“It’s all about scale now. My job is to really kind of bring the money, and the capital, and the private sector in to the Earthshot and meet the solutions and go ‘Come on. How can we scale? How can we do more?’” William explained.
The royal said his goal with the eco-awards was to drive positive solutions and praised the cohort of finalists, adding “over the next 10 years, we’ve got to give them the support … so that their impacts are magnified.”
The awards ceremony will be broadcast globally on BBC, PBS and online from November 12.
The prince, who is heir to the British throne, has also met with both Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and tried his hand at dragon boat racing on the Kallang River.
He was welcomed to Singapore on Sunday by hundreds of royal fans at Jewel Changi Airport, a nature-themed shopping complex which features a dramatic 40-meter-tall (around 130 feet) indoor waterfall, the HSBC Rain Vortex, as its centerpiece.
William last visited Singapore 11 years ago with his wife, Catherine, during his late grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee year. He said Monday that the Princess of Wales was “very sorry” to have missed the trip but had stayed in the UK to support their son Prince George through “his first set of major exams.”
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