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Prince William’s Earthshot prize announces finalists

<i>Isabel Infantes/WPA Pool/Getty Images</i><br/>King Charles is seen at a Buckingham Palace reception marking 50 years since thousands of Ugandan Asians were resettled in Britain after being forced out by former Ugandan President Idi Amin.
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Isabel Infantes/WPA Pool/Getty Images
King Charles is seen at a Buckingham Palace reception marking 50 years since thousands of Ugandan Asians were resettled in Britain after being forced out by former Ugandan President Idi Amin.

By Max Foster, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Ollie Macnaughton and Christian Edwards, CNN

The Earthshot Prize, an ambitious initiative founded by Prince William to help tackle some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges, has unveiled its 15 finalists for the 2022 edition.

They include Mukuru Clean Stoves from Kenya, which are said to create 70% less pollution than traditional stoves by using a fuel consisting of charcoal, wood and sugarcane, and Fleather from India, a sustainable alternative to plastic, made from floral waste.

The five winners will be selected from the shortlist at a glitzy ceremony in Boston on December 2, with each receiving a prize of £1 million (about $1.12 million). The organizers say that by 2030 at least 50 ideas aimed at resolving environmental problems will have been funded by the project, which they describe as “the world’s most prestigious environmental prize.” The initiative is funded by global organizations and philanthropic donations.

“We feel a great sense of urgency and we see great optimism and that’s because at the Earthshot Prize, we scour the planet and the ocean for solutions that if scaled could help to repair the planet,” Hannah Jones, CEO of the Earthshot Prize, told CNN.

“Every day, we are given solutions that we see inspiration in, being driven by determined people from around the world who want to make a difference.”

Inspired by US President John F. Kennedy’s call to do “not what is easy but what is hard,” which prefaced the 1969 moon landing, the Earthshot Prize aims to support “seemingly impossible” environmental schemes.

The new Prince of Wales is well aware of how royal support can help generate interest in a subject or cause but the initiatives that he and wife Catherine have established over the years, such as the Earthshot Prize, have been designed with longevity and long-term impact in mind. William doesn’t just want to be a presence at engagements to bring media coverage with him but to encourage lasting transformation in communities.

“The innovators, leaders, and visionaries that make up our 2022 Earthshot Finalists prove there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our planet,” William said in a statement. “They are directing their time, energy, and talent towards bold solutions with the power to not only solve our planet’s greatest environmental challenges, but to create healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come.”

The competition is based around five “Earthshots” or environmental goals: “Protect and Restore Nature,” “Clean Our Air,” “Revive Our Oceans,” “Build a Waste Free World,” and “Fix Our Climate.” Three finalists are attached to each Earthshot, with one winner per category.

Among the hopefuls is UK company Low Carbon Material, whose submission is known as OSTO and could reduce carbon emissions from the construction industry. Made from a mixture of waste material from landfills and by-products, it’s an environmentally friendly alternative to aggregate, one of concrete’s main ingredients.

“It just offers us complete validation of what we’re doing on a massive global platform,” the company’s CEO, Natasha Boulding, told CNN. On the Earthshot Prize, she said: “I think it’s put the climate crisis on the biggest platform that it possibly could and I think it really highlights the urgent need for solutions. And that can really inspire younger generations to do something similar because there’s so many solutions that are yet to be materialized.”

Also making the shortlist are Hutan, a grassroots wildlife research and conservation organization working toward a peaceful coexistence between nature and people in Malaysia; the Ampd Enertainer, an electric battery energy storage system that powers construction sites without fossil fuels; Roam, a Kenya-based company that makes electric vehicles in Africa, designed for the African market; the Great Bubble Barrier, a device that can be placed on a riverbed to create a curtain of bubbles that trap plastic waste for easier collection; and Oman-based 44.01, a company named after the molecular weight of carbon dioxide, which removes CO2 from the air by permanently mineralizing it into peridotite, a type of rock very common in Oman but found throughout the world.

The finalists will be judged by the Earthshot Prize Council, which includes naturalist and documentary maker David Attenborough, actor Cate Blanchett and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, as well as Prince William himself.

The winners will be announced on December 2 at the MGM Music Hall in Boston and we’ll be sure to bring you there with us in a future edition of this newsletter.

Sharing his enthusiasm ahead of the event, William added: “I am so excited to celebrate these 15 Finalists and see the five winners of The Earthshot Prize announced in Boston — the hometown of President John F. Kennedy, who shared The Earthshot Prize’s belief that seemingly impossible goals are within reach, if we only harness the limitless power of innovation, human ingenuity, and urgent optimism.”

Head here to learn more about the finalists or check out Call to Earth, CNN’s initiative to help drive awareness, action and education around key issues, while inspiring a blueprint for a more environmentally conscious life.

DON’T MISS

This week saw new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak U-turn on his decision to skip the upcoming UN COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. His attendance had been ruled out the week before with Downing Street citing “other pressing commitments.” Soon after, many wondered if King Charles might also change his mind.

We asked the palace, who reiterated that there were no changes to the King’s diary. “As has been made clear previously, in unanimous agreement with Government, His Majesty will not be attending COP27,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said.

Instead, they pointed to a pre-COP reception the King is throwing at Buckingham Palace on Friday “where senior business leaders, experts and NGOs can discuss the important work of the summit and explore ways in which public-private partnership can help tackle climate change.”

The spokesperson added: “His Majesty looks forward to hosting the Prime Minister and other global leaders at the event.”

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?

The family hail British sporting heroes.

Athletes who won bronze, silver and gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, were warmly welcomed to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. More than 200 medallists attended the event, held by the King and Queen Consort, where the royal family helped celebrate their success. Team GB has triumphed at a cluster of recent tournaments, coming fourth in the overall rankings for the Tokyo Olympics and second in the Paralympics.

Kate reaches out to those struggling with addiction.

The Princess of Wales shared a touching message of support over the weekend, urging those battling addiction to ask for help as attitudes around dependence shift. The royal spoke in a video to mark Addiction Awareness Week, organized by The Forward Trust, which was one of her first patronages in 2012. The charity said this year’s campaign was especially urgent due to the increased demand for help arising from lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Addiction is a serious mental health condition that can happen to anyone,” Kate said in the video. “The only way to help those suffering is to try to understand what has led them to addiction. To empathize with them, and to be compassionate to their struggles.” She added: “Please know that addiction is not a choice… Recovery is possible.”

King Charles sends condolences to South Korean President.

The King expressed his condolences to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol following the Halloween crowd crush that killed 156 people in Itaewon, Seoul, on Saturday. “I wanted you to know how deeply shocked and saddened both my wife and I are to hear of the many people who have lost their loved ones as a consequence of the recent, tragic incident,” Charles wrote. “However inadequate this may be under such heartbreaking circumstances, we extend our deepest possible sympathy to all the bereaved families.” The King recalled the President’s “gracious” visit to London to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, and assured him that “the United Kingdom stands in solidarity with the people of the Republic of Korea at such a time of national mourning.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Last week, journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera told us about his feelings at seeing King Charles III with the UK’s first prime minister of color. Sanghera praised the monarch’s “long history of interfaith, interracial community relations” when he was prince and shared his hope that Charles would continue to use his role as King to “bring people together.”

Proof that this is in fact what King Charles III intends to do was evident this week when he hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the resettlement of British Asians from Uganda in the UK. In 1972, some 60,000 Ugandan Asians were forced to leave the country by former Ugandan President Idi Amin amid widespread anti-Asian prejudice. Almost half of these people arrived in Britain. Thousands of volunteers worked to house, clothe, feed and teach English to the refugees.

The King mingled with refugees and volunteers who reunited at the event, which was presented by British broadcasting grandees Jon Snow and Jonathan Dimbleby. Back in 1997 on the 25th anniversary of the resettlement, a thanksgiving service was held at Westminster Abbey. Attendees received a letter from Charles, then the Prince of Wales, which contained these touching words: “You are today commemorating not an expulsion but an arrival; not a trauma, but a magnificent recovery. Twenty-five years on, the Ugandan Asian Community in Britain have proved to be one of our great successes and a tremendous asset to this country to which you fled.”

IN THE ROYAL DIARY

It’s going to be a sporting Saturday for Kate who will head to the quarterfinal of the Rugby League World Cup where England face Papua New Guinea at the DW Stadium in Wigan, northwest England. The Princess of Wales is patron of English Rugby. England is hosting the 2021 tournament, which was meant to be held last year but was postponed due to the pandemic. The host nation have made a strong start to the tournament, and will face a resilient Papua New Guinea side that recently beat Wales 36-0. Simon Johnson, chair of the Rugby Football League, said in a tweet the sport is “Delighted and honored to welcome the Princess of Wales for the first time as Patron,” adding “her presence will enhance a special occasion for our sport… and for the famous rugby league town of Wigan.”

The Prince of Wales spoke at the 10th Tusk Conservation Awards, where he is a patron, in a ceremony held at Hampton Court Palace on Tuesday. The awards celebrate African-based conservation leaders and wildlife rangers in the continent that is — in the words of previous Tusk award winner David Attenborough — “on the frontline of conservation.” Four winners were chosen this year for work in Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia. Find out more here.

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