William founded the environmental prize — self-styled as the “most prestigious global environment prize in history” — after becoming disappointed with world leaders’ lackluster efforts to combat climate change, he has said in his book on the initiative.
Ahead of the ceremony, his father, Prince Charles, tweeted: “I am very proud of my son, William, for his growing commitment to the environment and the bold ambition of the Earthshot Prize.”
The winners included a green hydrogen technology that can be used as a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels; an India-based outfit that makes low-cost smokeless machines that convert agricultural waste into fuels and fertilizers; and a team from the Bahamas that grows coral farms on land that can be replanted in oceans.
The Republic of Costa Rica also won for reversing deforestation by paying its citizens to protect its forests, and the city of Milan won for its system of food hubs that collect and redistribute surplus supplies to the city’s needy.
The winners were selected from a pool of more than 750 candidates chosen by a panel of more than 200 experts. The judges included the British TV naturalist David Attenborough, Jordan’s Queen Rania, actress Cate Blanchett, singer Shakira and former basketball star Yao Ming.
Keeping with the eco-friendly theme, the winners didn’t collect their prizes onstage; rather, they were patched in via video from around the world.
Guests who did attend, including celebrity presenters Emma Watson, Emma Thompson and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, were asked by organizers to “consider the environment when choosing their outfit.”
Ed Sheeran, KSI and Coldplay performed during the ceremony. The performance by Coldplay, viewers were told, was powered by 60 people manically pedaling on bicycles next to the stage.
The prize was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious 1961 mission — nicknamed the moonshot — to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Every year, for the next decade, winners of the Earthshot award will be selected in five categories: protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world and fix our climate.
At the end of the ceremony, William strode onto the stage and announced that next year’s ceremony will be held in the United States.
“Where better than the nation that inspired the moonshot all those years ago?” he said.