These inspiring innovations tackle deforestation, crop waste, carbon emissions, overfishing and EV lithium battery recycling.
Solar-powered dryers, a soil carbon marketplace, and cleaner electric car batteries are among this year’s Earthshot Prize winning solutions.
Crowning the five finalists in Singapore yesterday (7 November), Prince William said the innovations prove that “hope does remain” as the devastating effects of climate change are felt across the world.
The British prince’s Royal Foundation charity launched the 10-year award programme in 2020, with the aim of finding new solutions and technologies to tackle the planet’s greatest environmental perils.
There are five "Earthshots" - or goals: Protect and Restore Nature; Clean Our Air; Revive Our Oceans; Build a Waste-free World; and Fix Our Climate.
The winners were chosen from among 15 finalists, at the third Earthshot Prize awards ceremony and the first to be held in Asia.
Who are the Earthshot Prize 2023 winners?
The winners each won £1 million (around €1.15 million) to scale up their innovations.
“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,” William said.
Protect and Restore Nature: Acción Andina
For a community-based initiative in South America bringing people together to restore high forests in the Andes mountain.
Less than 10 per cent of the biodiversity-rich mountain range remains. To restore it, Acción Andina trains local conservation leaders and oversees projects, all in line with ancient Inca principles of “Ayni and Minka”, a deep commitment to working together for the common good.
Build a Waste-free World: India's S4S Technologies
For solar-powered dryers and processing equipment that help farmers preserve their crops and combat food waste.
About 30 per cent of agricultural produce is wasted before it leaves smallholder farms in India every year, due to price fluctuations. 24S, set up by six university friends, provides cheap tech that enables farmers to store crops that would otherwise be left rotting in fields.
With a focus on supporting female farmers, it also helps them to turn preserved waste into valuable food products, like ketchup.
Fix Our Climate: Boomitra
For removing emissions and helping boost farmer profits by incentivising land restoration through a verified carbon-credit marketplace.
Boomitra, which means “friend of the earth” in Sanskrit, works with more than 150,000 farmers, who manage over five million acres of land in some of the poorest parts of Africa, South America and Asia. Satellites and AI technology are used to measure improvements farmers make to the soil, tracking its ability to store carbon over time.
Companies and governments looking to offset their emissions can purchase independently verified carbon credits from Boomitra’s marketplace. The majority of the revenue from each credit goes directly to the farmers and ranchers.
Clean Our Air: Hong Kong company GRST
For developing a way to make batteries for electric vehicles pollute less and are easier to recycle.
There are expected to be at least 125 million electric vehicles on the world's roads by 2030, which means a growing appetite for lithium batteries. With increasing concerns about what mining this metal means for ecosystems and human rights, lithium-ion battery recycling is a key solution to unlock.
GRST has created a way to build the battery using a water-soluble binding composite, instead of toxic solvents. This means that at the end of the battery’s life, the lithium, cobalt and nickel can be more economically recovered and reused again, reducing demand for further extraction.
Revive Our Oceans: Global non-profit WildAid Marine Programme
For bolstering enforcement to deter illegal fishing and strengthen ocean conservation.
World leaders have agreed to protect 30 per cent of oceans by 2030. But the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that governments have designated are still vulnerable to overfishing.
WildAid strengthens their enforcement by ensuring people have the necessary tools, technology and resources, with tailored approaches to different regions of the world. This allows wildlife to recover and improves coastal community livelihoods.
What do the Earthshot Prize winners get?
Prince William urged people to become an “architect of change” to ensure a safer planet for future generations.
Apart from the prize money awarded to the winners, all 15 finalists will receive a year of technical support and resources to help them accelerate and expand their work.
The other finalists included a US company that found a way to recycle polycotton fabrics; a tree-planting programme in Freetown, Sierra Leone; an anti-smog movement in Poland; and a UK company making low-emission tyres.
The award presenters in the categories of nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change included actors Cate Blanchett, Donnie Yen, Lana Condor and Nomzamo Mbatha, as well as wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin.
Who was at the Earthshot Prize awards?
The winners were chosen by a 13-member council that includes Jordan’s Queen Rania, Chinese business magnate Jack Ma, British fashion designer Stella McCartney, broadcaster David Attenborough, World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweale and former NBA star Yao Ming.
The glitzy ceremony at the theatre in state-owned Media Corp. was co-hosted by actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown. The bands One Republic and Bastille, and US singer Bebe Rexha performed for the night.
Singapore ministers and former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also attended.
Ardern, a trustee of the Earthshot board, said before the ceremony that Earthshot had helped amplify the solutions needed to fight climate change.
“We need speed and pace and Earthshot focuses on providing both,” she said.
COP28 is expected to do a stock take of the 2015 landmark Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or at least 2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. It’s already warmed about 1.1 degrees since the mid-1800s.