Prince William awards the Earthshot Prize to 5 winners and credits the finalists for giving hope

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Britain's Prince William, Hannah Waddingham, left, and Sterling K. Brown pose on the green carpet for the 2023 Earthshot Prize Awards in in Singapore, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

An Indian maker of solar-powered dryers, a soil carbon marketplace and groups that work to make electric car batteries cleaner, restore Andean forests and deter illegal fishing were awarded the Earthshot Prize at a ceremony in Singapore.

Britain's Prince William, whose Royal Foundation charity launched the 10-year award program in 2020, said at the ceremony Tuesday that the solutions presented by all 15 finalists proved that “hope does remain” as the devastating effects of climate change are felt across the world.

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The winners, who each won 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) to scale up their innovations, are:

— Acción Andina, for a community-based initiative in South America bringing people together to restore high forests in the Andes mountain;

— India’s S4S Technologies, for solar-powered dryers and processing equipment that help farmers preserve their crops and combat food waste;

— Boomitra, for removing emissions and helping boost farmer profits in Asia, South America and Africa by incentivizing land restoration through a verified carbon-credit marketplace;

— Hong Kong company GRST, for developing a way to make batteries for electric vehicles pollute less and are easier to recycle;

— Global non-profit WildAid Marine Program, for working with governments to bolster enforcement to deter illegal fishing and strengthen ocean conservation.

“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. He 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 U.S. company that found a way to recycle polycotton fabrics; a tree-planting program in Freetown, Sierra Leone; an anti-smog movement in Poland; and a U.K. company making low-emission tires.

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.

The awards ceremony was the third for the Earthshot Prize and the first in Asia. It was launched to shore up innovative solutions and technologies against the planet’s greatest environmental perils.

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.

In line with the sustainability theme, William wore a 10-year-old dark green blazer by Alexander McQueen, and he and other presenters walked a “green carpet." Yen also donned an old suit, while South African actor Mbatha wore a bright navy blue gown by McCartney, known for her eco-friendly clothing.

The glitzy ceremony at the theater in state-owned Media Corp. was co-hosted by actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown. The bands One Republic and Bastille, and U.S. 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 amplified the solutions needed to fight climate change.

“We need speed and pace and Earthshot focuses on providing both,” she said.

The ceremony came ahead of the COP28 U.N. climate change summit in Dubai, which starts Nov. 30 and will include a speech by William's father, King Charles III.

COP28 is expected to do a stock take of the 2015 landmark Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) or at least 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. It’s already warmed about 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-1800s.

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