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Prince William's climate initiative Earthshot Prize awarded to five winners, two from Asia

SINGAPORE: Two firms from Asia were among the five winners announced at the annual Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony – an initiative started by Britain’s Prince William – held in Singapore on Tuesday evening (Nov 7).

They include a Hong Kong-based start-up GRST (Green, Renewable, Sustainable Technology), which aims to develop a safer and cheaper way to build and recycle lithium-ion batteries to make electric cars; and India’s S4S Technologies, which fights food waste through the use of solar-powered dryers and processing equipment. This enables small-hold farmers to preserve crops and turn produce that might otherwise go to waste into valuable products.

GRST chief executive officer and co-founder Justin Hung said: “The world needs a massive amount of batteries to achieve net zero by 2050, but a revolution is needed to make these batteries cleaner and more recyclable.”

“Today, our water-based technology is driving this transformation to provide consumers with a sustainable energy future,” he added. 

Nidhi Pant, co-founder of S4S Technologies, highlighted that the firm – together with female farmers – is creating “a new food ecosystem” that reduces wastage and mitigates the increase in greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the world’s food needs.

“With empowered women farmers taking leadership to fight climate change by ensuring food security, increasing incomes, creating jobs, boosting local economies, and advocating with the government, women farmers have emerged as key partners in driving lasting impact,” Ms Pant said. 

“We are honored to be recognised by the Earthshot Prize. We aim to create a waste-free food system and to transform (the) lives of millions of women farmers.” 

All five winners will each receive £1 million (US$1.2 million) to support efforts to scale their innovative climate and environmental solutions. 

The Earthshot Prize, founded in 2020 by Prince William, aims to support innovative projects to tackle climate change and protect the planet.

The awards ceremony was held in Asia for the first time and will be accompanied by a series of events as part of Earthshot Week.

Related:

Temasek Trust and Earthshot Prize expand partnership, will spotlight Asia in fight against climate change

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OTHER WINNERS

The three other winners announced on Tuesday are: Acción Andina, a South American grassroots initiative working to protect native high Andean forest ecosystems; WildAid Marine Program, a global non-profit organisation which aims to end illegal fishing and strengthen ocean conservation; and Boomitra, a global company describing itself as a soil carbon marketplace that rewards farmers for sustainable land management practices.

“From Boomitra, S4S, and Acción Andina, to GRST and WildAid Marine Program, 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,” organisers of the Earthshot Prize said in a media release.

The five winners were selected by Prince William and the Earthshot Prize council – a global body of activists, experts, and influencers committed to championing urgent and innovative action to protect the climate and the world’s natural environment.

Besides the winners, all 15 finalists will receive mentorship, resources and technical support from The Earthshot Prize Fellowship Programme, a year-long programme to accelerate the growth of their solutions. 

This includes access to a network of influential businesses, investors and climate experts, including The Earthshot Prize’s Global Alliance of Partners. This alliance is made up of some of the world’s largest businesses, donors, investors and environmental organisations committed to climate action, said the media release. 

At the ceremony, Prince William said: “Last year has been one of great change and even greater challenge; a year in which the effects of the climate crisis have become too visible to be ignored. And a year that’s left so many feeling defeated, their hope dwindling.”

“However, as we’ve seen tonight, hope does remain. The lights of optimism (are) burning bright in our Earthshot finalists.”

He also expressed his “deepest gratitude” to Singapore for hosting the third Earthshot Prize ceremony, calling the country a “great city leveraging and innovation to help repair and regenerate our planets”.

“I choose to believe that the future generations will look back on this decade as the point at which we globally took collective action for our planet; the moment we refused to accept the voices of denial and defeatism and instead became the architects of change towards a healthy and sustainable world,” said Prince William. “We owe it to the generations that will follow us to work together, both for their future and the future of our planet. It is my belief that we will find the courage to do so. 

“We will find the courage because we will hold on to the most powerful motivators of all – optimism and hope.”

The prize ceremony on Tuesday was held at The Theatre at Mediacorp and hosted by Emmy Award winners Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K Brown.

Celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Lana Condor, Robert Irwin, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Donnie Yen also attended the ceremony. 

Speaking to the media at the green carpet preceding the ceremony, Irwin, son of the late Australian wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin, said: “I’ve dedicated my life to wildlife conservation. It’s not just what I do. It’s who I am.”

“I feel a great responsibility to continue my dad’s legacy. He was such an incredibly active voice of change and to create my own and being here with Earthshot is so special.”

He added that he is “all about wildlife” which goes hand in hand with “everything we’re talking about here tonight”. 

“You can’t have a healthy population of wild animals without clean air, without first fixing our climate problem, without cleaning our oceans … There’s a lot of big issues that we have to face to protect our wildlife.”

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