This Sunday, the likes of Ed Sheeran and Coldplay will be performing at a special ceremony in London hosted by celebrities from the worlds of film and sport, all gathering for the important cause of fighting climate change.

You might be thinking it, but no it’s not a Global Citizen concert — it’s to celebrate the winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize, set up by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, the charity founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The night will see five winners — from a shortlist of 15 — presented with £1 million awards to develop their innovative solutions to the most pressing environmental problems of our time.

It’s hoped that the prize will kickstart a process of getting the world’s best minds focused on fighting the climate crisis and finding ways to repair our planet. The aim is to “turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism,” according to the organisers.  

Here’s everything you need to know. 

What Is the Earthshot Prize? 

The Earthshot Prize was launched a year ago by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough with the aim of finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems that are destroying our planet.

The name and the concept takes inspiration from US President John F. Kennedy’s successful “Moonshot” programme in 1961. Kennedy had the aim of galvanising technological inventions that would put a person on the moon by the end of the decade.

Five £1 million prizes will be awarded every year until 2030, making the total award money pot £50 million.

Contenders put forward their idea to fix a problem in one of five categories: “clean air”,” protect and restore nature”, “revive our oceans”, “build a waste-free world”, and “fix our climate."

Any group or individual can apply and this year the finalists include the City of Milan, Costa Rica, and a 14-year-old girl, Vinisha Umashankar, who is in the running because of her invention of solar-powered ironing cart and wants to scale up manufacturing.

Following the announcement of the shortlist, Prince William said: “I am honoured to introduce the 15 innovators, leaders, and visionaries who are the first ever finalists for the Earthshot prize.

“They are working with the urgency required in this decisive decade for life on Earth and will inspire all of us with their optimism in our ability to rise to the greatest challenges in human history.”

The Earthshot Prize is supported by a global alliance of climate NGOs including Greenpeace, the UN Environment Programme, and WWF. Corporate members of the alliance include Microsoft, Bloomberg, and Ikea.

Who Are the Finalists?

There were 750 applicants for the Earthshot Prize this year, and they have been narrowed down to a group of just 15 finalists, hailing from 14 countries.

The shortlist in the running for the £1 million grants is a mixed group including nonprofits, start-ups, a city, a country, and individuals, and the projects they are seeking funding for are just as wide-ranging.

Ideas include a box that can efficiently convert waste water to clean water, a solar battery company that aims to provide clean electricity across Africa, and a food and nature nonprofit that teaches former animal poachers new skills.

3 Key Facts About the Earthshot Prize 

  1. The Earthshot Prize will provide £50 million in grants to fund environmental solutions over the next 10 years, providing five £1 million grants each year.
  2. 750 individuals and groups applied this year and the finalists come from 14 countries. 
  3. Five environmental experts including Sir David Attenborough judge the winners

How Do I Watch the Earthshot Prize Ceremony?

Hosted by Clara Amfo and Dermot O’Leary, the awards ceremony will include performances from singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes, rapper KSI, and Afropop sensation Kemi Alade, as well as Sheeran and Coldplay. 

Sir David, one of the five judges of the prize, will give a speech, and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, David Oyelowo, and Mo Salah will all be there to present awards to the winners too.

Viewers in the UK can tune in to watch the event on BBC One or BBC iPlayer at 8 p.m., while Discovery channel will also be streaming the ceremony live from its Facebook page for a global audience.

Global Citizen Explains

Defend the Planet

What Is the Earthshot Prize? Everything to Know About Prince William’s £1 Million Climate Award

By Helen Lock