The Duke of Cambridge has said he believes “huge strides” can be made in tackling the planet’s environmental problems as he hailed the “game changing nature” of his Earthshot Prize.
In a podcast co-hosted by Cate Blanchett, William talked about how he is focusing on scaling up the competition’s inaugural winners.
He also discussed the need for more solutions to repair the planet, led by women and indigenous communities, from the 2022 nominees.
The Duke revealed that his love of the natural world was “piqued” by his father and grandfather’s “passion” for it, and reflected on childhood memories spent digging ditches, climbing trees and being out in the “wild and the wet”.
He admitted to feeling nervous in the run-up to the first awards ceremony for his environmental Earthshot Prize, but said the event went according to plan.
Blanchett – a member of the Earthshot Prize Council – hosted the Climate of Change podcast from Audible, and William was a guest alongside climate entrepreneur and activist Danny Kennedy, who nominated several projects for the competition.
The Duke quoted Christiana Figueres, chair of Earthshot’s board of trustees, when referring to himself as a “stubborn optimist”, after Blanchett suggested that he appeared “quite hopeful” that we may be able to “work our way out of what seems to be to crisis”.
He added: “She’s given me a lot of hope that this can happen and I believe it, and I’m seeing it with my own eyes. It’s really inspiring, it’s really hopeful. And I do believe we can make huge strides.
“The same way the Earthshot to me is a team game, and as you know Cate, I said that to the prize council members, to all of you, it’s everyone doing their bit and helping and supporting what we’re trying to do – it’s all of us in it together.
“In the same collective spirit, it would be great if we could tackle climate change and environmental things the same way.
“I really do think it can be done in much quicker time than we anticipate because the solutions are out there. There are real solutions to these problems.”
The inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony was staged last October at Alexandra Palace in London.
Among those who walked the event’s “green carpet” were Harry Potter star Emma Watson, wearing a wedding dress made of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson.
Each of the five category winners – protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world, and fix our climate – received £1 million in prize money.
Organizers said if their ideas were realized by 2030, all life on earth would be improved.
Now nominations have opened for the 2022 Earthshot Prize, taking place in a city in the US, which is still to be decided.
William said he was eager to get a wider representation of nominees,
He said: “What I’d love to see personally, is I’d like to see more women-led solutions and more indigenous community-led solutions.
“But these next nine months, what we’ve got to really focus on is the scaling of the 2021 winners and finalists, that’s what’s really important to us – that’s the game changing nature of what the Earthshot Prize is about.”
Last month the Duke traveled to the Bahamas where he visited the winners of the revive our oceans category – the Coral Vita project that grows coral on land to replant in oceans, giving new life to dying marine habitat.
Regarding his interest in the natural world, he cited Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries as revealing a “wider world out there to explore”, when he was younger.
He added: “And I think my grandfather, my father, both kind of having a deep passion and interest in this area for many years, has sort of piqued my interest and my curiosity.
“So growing up, I was surrounded by kind of this adventure and this idea of exploring and being out in the garden. I used to spend hours climbing trees, digging ditches and all sorts of things – hiding in dens and all sorts round the garden.
“So I used to love being out in the sort of wild and the wet.”