Prince William unveils the first-ever Earthshot Prize finalists

By Heather Cichowski

After a search across the globe, Prince William has announced the finalists for the very first Earthshot Prize!

On Sept. 17, the Duke of Cambridge revealed the 15 inspiring challengers who have come up with forward-thinking solutions to help tackle earth's biggest problems. There are three finalists for each of the five "Earthshots," or categories: Fix Our Climate, Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans and Build a Waste-Free-World.

William appeared in a video to make the announcement. The diverse group includes groups and organizations from countries around the world, such as India, the Bahamas, Italy and even the entire Republic of Costa Rica!

Vinisha Umashankar, who made the list, is a 14-year-old environmental activist and innovator from India who has designed a solar-powered ironing cart with the potential to improve air quality across the country.

Other finalists include The Blue Map App, China's first public environmental database which enables citizens to hold polluters accountable, and Restor from Switzerland, an online platform connecting and empowering local conservation projects.

AEM Electrolyser is a partnership between Italy, Germany and Thailand that uses green hydrogen technology. It has the potential to change how the world is powdered.

MORE: Prince William and Earthshot Prize Council members sign letter encouraging everyone to 'give the earth a shot'

The prizes could be awarded to teams, a range of individuals or collaborations.

Five of these finalists will be named the first-ever winners of the Earthshot Prize in a ceremony happening at Alexandra Palace in London on Oct. 17. The premiere awards will be broadcast in the U.K. on BBC One and streamed globally on Discovery's Facebook and Discovery+. Prince William previously announced details of the Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony in June.

The Earthshot Prize will name five winners, one per Earthshot, whose evidence-based solutions make the most progress towards the highlighted goals. The winners will each receive £1 million (approximately $1.7 million) for their solutions.

The Earthshot Prize, in collaboration with its Global Alliance network, had over 200 Nominators searching the world for the best solutions to help our planet. The Earthshot Prize Council had been sharing updates and encouraging everyone to get involved.

William launched the Earthshot Prize in December 2019. It is described as "the most prestigious environmental project in history" and wants evidence-based solutions to help fix the emergencies facing the natural world.

Prince William looks out across London from Alexandra Palace as he announces the inaugural Earthshot Prize Award in June 2021. Photo: © Kensington Palace via Getty Images

Following the first prize in London in 2021, Earthshot Prizes will be handed out to five Earthshots every year until 2030. The hope is the winners' work will provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by the end of the decade.

Prior to announcing the first Earthshot Prize finalists, the Duke of Cambridge opened up about why environmentalism and the prize were so important to him. The inspiration is part of the introduction for the Earthshot Prize's authoritative book Earthshot: How to Save our Planet, which will be released on Sept. 30. The title is currently available to pre-order on Amazon and it comes in hardcover, audio book and a Kindle edition.

The Earthshot: How to Save Our Planet book has an introduction by the Duke of Cambridge. Photo: © Amazon

"I wanted to share the early conversations in 2018 that led to the Prize’s creation and the simple equation that captures my theory behind Earthshot: Urgency + Optimism = Action," William explained in the Instagram post.

The dad of three explained that it was his and Duchess Kate's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, that inspired the Earthshot Prize.

William said that he wanted to be able to look at his kids and know he did his part in helping protect the earth.

He said to himself, "What is the maximum positive personal contribution I can make in the next ten years in the fight against climate change? What am I going to do in the next decade that means I can look my children in the eye and say that I did my bit?"

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