The Duke of Cambridge said he believed “enormous progress” could be made in tackling the planet’s environmental problems, while hailing the “groundbreaking nature” of his Earthshot award.
Speaking on a podcast co-hosted by actress Cate Blanchett, William said he intended to focus on scaling up the early contest winners and wanted more solutions to fix the planet led by women and indigenous communities among the 2022 nominees.
The Duke said his appreciation of the natural world was ‘piqued’ by his father and grandfather’s ‘passion’ for him, and described childhood memories of climbing trees, digging ditches and to be in the “wild and damp”.
He also revealed that the preparation for the first awards ceremony for his Earthshot environmental award was “terrifying”, but luckily the event went off without too much of a hitch.
William discussed on Audible’s Climate of Change podcast, hosted by Earthshot Prize board or jury member Blanchett and entrepreneur and climate activist Danny Kennedy, who nominated a number of projects for the competition.
When Blanchett said he seemed “pretty hopeful” that we could “emerge from what appears to be a crisis”, the Duke responded by quoting Christiana Figueres, chair of the board of directors of Earthshot, saying that he felt like a ‘stubborn optimist’.
He added: “She gave me a lot of hope that this could happen and I believe it, and I see it with my own eyes. It’s really inspiring, it’s really hopeful. And I believe that we can make enormous progress.
“In the same way that Earthshot is a team game for me, and as you know Cate, I said that to the members of the awards council, to all of you, it’s everyone doing their part and helping and supports what we’re trying to do – it’s all of us together.
“In the same collective spirit, it would be great if we could approach climate change and environmental things in the same way.
“I really think it can be done in much longer than expected, because the solutions exist. There are real solutions to these problems.
The inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony took place last October at Alexandra Palace in London and among those who walked the event’s ‘green carpet’ was Harry Potter star Emma Watson in a bride made up of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson.
The ceremony saw a £1million prize awarded to each of the five category winners – protecting and restoring nature; clean our air; revive our oceans; building a world without waste; and fix our climate – and organizers said if their ideas come to fruition by 2030, it will improve everyone’s lives.
Nominations are open for the 2022 Earthshot Prize hosted in the United States, but the Duke said they have yet to decide which city will host it and he wants to get a wider representation from the nominees.
He said: “What I would like to see personally is that I would like to see more solutions led by women and more solutions led by indigenous communities.
“But over the next nine months what we really need to focus on is scaling up the winners and finalists of 2021, that’s what’s really important to us – that’s the changing nature of the nature of the Earthshot prize.”
The Duke traveled to the Bahamas last month where he visited the winners of the revive our oceans category – the Coral Vita project which grows coral on land to replant in the oceans, giving new life to the dying marine habitat.
Asked about his interest in the natural world, he said Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries revealed there was a “wider world to explore” when he was younger.
He added: “And I think my grandfather, my father, both of them passionate and interested in this area for many years, kind of piqued my interest and curiosity.
“So growing up I was surrounded by a kind of adventure and this idea of exploring and being in the garden. I used to spend hours climbing trees, digging ditches and all sorts of things – hiding in dens and all sorts around the garden.
“So I loved being outside in the wild and wet kind.”