The Duke of Cambridge vowed to “find the solutions to repair our planet” as the first ever winners of the Earthshot Prize were announced at an awards ceremony attended by Dame Emma Thompson and Liverpool FC striker Mo Salah.
Prince William was joined on stage by Kate Middleton as he urged young people not to “give up hope” and to “keep demanding change” to tackle the climate crisis.
Five innovative green projects from across the globe won £1m each at the event, which was televised by the BBC. Among the winners were projects restoring coral reefs, redistributing unwanted food to the disadvantage and a project battling the issues contributing to air pollution in India.
Harry Potter star Emma Watson, wearing a wedding dress made of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson were among those who trod the ceremony’s green carpet at Alexandra Palace.
Kate arrived wearing an Alexander McQueen dress made for her in 2011, while her husband wore a dark green velvet blazer and a polo neck which co-host Dermot O’Leary later jokingly described as “looking very Bond”.
Guests were asked by organisers to “consider the environment when choosing their outfit” for the awards inspired by the Apollo moon landings, nicknamed Moonshot, which helped advance mankind’s technological achievements.
The event was launched by Coldplay who pre-recorded their performance, which was powered by 60 people pedalling bicycles, and Ed Sheeran later took to the stage to entertain the audience.
Kate presented the winning award in the protect and restore nature category to the government of Costa Rica, which has pioneered a project paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems.
She said: “Nature is vital to us all. A thriving natural world, regulates our planet, nurtures our physical and mental health and helps feed our families.
“But for too long, we’ve neglected our wild spaces and now we’re facing a number of tipping points.
“If we don’t act now, we will permanently destabilise our planet and we will rob our children of the future they deserve.”
Salah presented the first Earthshot Prize in the ‘Revive our oceans’ category, to the Coral Vita project which grows coral on land to replant in oceans, giving new life to dying ecosystems.
Watson awarded the Fix our climate prize to AEM Electrolyser technology which turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas.
The Harry Potter star said: “I’ve spent much of my working life, acting in fictional make believe worlds where the impossible, can be made possible.
“Now, we need to do the same thing with climate change here in the real world.
“There have been many other times in history where it’s been said something couldn’t be done, and then, people believed in a better world and made it so. (This) time is no different, I know that we can.”
Dame Emma Thompson presented the award for Build a waste-free world to the city of Milan for its food waste project.
After having trouble with her microphone when she came to the stage, she joked: “I broke my mike by dropping it down the lav”.
Later William spoke to the winners via a video call alongside Kate. He said: “I am so proud of you. Everyone here is amazed by the solutions.
“Real positivity and the fact it is solutions based keeps people smiling and feeling hopeful.”
At the end of the event William took to the stage to tell the audience: “I want to say something to the young watching tonight.
“For too long, we haven’t done enough to protect the planet for your future, the Earthshot is for you. In the next 10 years, we are going to act.
“We are going to find the solutions to repair our planet. Please keep learning, keep demanding change, and don’t give up hope. We will rise to these challenges.”
Next year’s event will be held in the US.