The Duke of Cambridge has said the “amazing” entries in his Earthshot Prize competition should fill the world with “optimism and hope” as he announced the finalists.
William launched the ambitious environmental prize to make a “positive personal” contribution in the fight against climate change, taking his inspiration from John F Kennedy’s Moonshot project which advanced mankind’s achievements.
His efforts to recognise new ideas, practices and inventions to help “repair” the planet came a step closer as he named the 15 finalists from across the globe.
Among them are a teenager from India who has designed a solar-powered ironing cart, the nation of Costa Rica, which has pioneered a project paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, and a Chinese app that allows its citizens to hold polluters to account.
There are no UK finalists but organisers believe homegrown talent will feature in the award in future years.
In a video message to launch the finalists, William said on the Earthshot YouTube channel: “When we launched the prize last year, our ambition was to find the most innovative solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges.
“In our first year of the Earthshot Prize, we’ve received over 700 nominations, representing solutions from every continent.
“These are submitted by over 200 nominating organisations who helped to search every corner of the globe, for the inspiring innovative solutions to repair our planet.
“The ambition, quality and range of submissions has been amazing, and should fill us all with optimism and hope that our goals for this decisive decade are achievable.”
The winners in five categories will each receive £1 million to develop their projects after being picked by a judging panel consisting of the duke and leading figures like broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett and singer Shakira.
They will be recognised, during the awards ceremony in London on October 17, for solutions which tackle one of the five Earthshots, which are: Protect and restore nature; Clean our air, Revive our oceans; Build a waste-free world; and Fix our climate.
Vinisha Umashankar, 14, from India, has been described by organisers of the environmental prize as an activist to watch after developing a project to help people who provide laundry services.
The teenager talked about her nomination in the Clean Our Air category in a video message: “My Earthshot Prize solution is the solar ironing cart. It replaces charcoal with solar energy and it can reduce air pollution, deforestation and even climate change.
“With the solar ironing cart the ironing vendors can earn more and save more, getting out of the brutal poverty cycle.”
Costa Rica has been nominated in the Protect And Restore nature category for its project paying individuals to restore the natural eco-system which is helping to revive its rainforests.
Andrea Meza, the country’s environment and energy minister, said in her message: “Our solution and combined action of payment of environmental services programmes, and the system of conservation areas to protect 6% of the world’s biodiversity, aims to protect and restore nature.”
The city of Milan is also among the finalists for its food waste hubs that have significantly reduced the dumping of unwanted food and tackled hunger.