Earthshot Prize 2021

Earthshot Prize 2021

The Earthshot Prize has been designed to incentivise change and help repair our planet. This was its first year, with the awards ceremony being broadcast last week. Over the next ten years the prize will travel around the world and award 5 awards under different categories each year. Each winner receives a one million-pound prize, resulting in the funding of at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030. Importantly the prize will aim to inspire people all over the world to work together to repair the planet in a timeframe that is most crucial. 

The award takes its inspiration from the Moonshot, where President John F. Kennedy united millions of people by aiming to put man on the moon. This joining together of minds and passion catalysed the development of new technology in the 1960s. Therefore, if we collectively work together are we able to push solutions forward for the planet?

The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge worked with people such as David Attenborough on the prize. The Earthshot Prize Council is a global team of 15 influential individuals from a wide range of different sectors, including David Attenborough himself, actress Cate Blanchett, and singer Shakira. For the 2021 ceremony it was important that environmental consciousness was held. Therefore, nobody flew to London, no plastic was used and guests were asked to “consider the environment” when choosing an outfit. One stand out outfit came from Emma Watson who wore a dress made from 10 different dresses from Oxfam when presenting an award. 

The design of the award itself was created by Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma. It has 50 individual awards which will each be presented to the five winners each year. The award is titled ‘Precious Matter’, and was ?inspired by?the?the first photograph of the Earth captured from space, taken by astronaut?General?William?Anders on December 24, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission.? Each award is completely unique as they depict a slightly different rotation of the Earth’s surface, and when brought together create the full Earth. The awards were made from amalgamated recycled materials, including brass sourced from water pipe fittings, household waste and minute metal elements filtered from wastewater sludge. 


Coral Vita


Coral reefs are rapidly decreasing due to ocean warming and acidification. It is estimated that over 90% of reefs by 2050 will be lost, which will dramatically impact the whole planet as a quarter of marine life rely on coral reefs. A billion human lives depend on the benefits of reefs worldwide. But reefs also play an important part in the earth’s ecosystem, so without them we will all be highly impacted.

Coral Vita grows coral on land to replant in oceans, which in turn gives new life to dying ecosystems. They have been able to create resilient coral which is not as affected by the effects of climate change. Their methods to grow coral are also up to 50 times faster than traditional methods. Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern launched Coral Vita’s first facility in Grand Bahama. But a year later Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm, which strengthened their passion to protect our reefs. As well as restoring reefs they now also work with local communities, public officials, and private companies to improve education, create new job prospects, and build a model to inject more funding into environmental protection. It is estimated that using Coral Vita’s methods could potentially supply coral for an entire nation from one coral farm. But their main aim is to create a network of farms in every nation with reefs.



Republic of Costa Rica


Forests are incredibly important for the planet. They are giant carbon sinks, and are also home to half our plants and animals, and three quarters of our birds. But due to urbanisation, felling, and land clearance, a large amount of forests have now disappeared. In 2020 more trees were felled than ever before, causing 10% of global warming.

Costa Rica is known for being rich with forests. But in the 1990s these forests were taken down to half of their former size. Since then the people of Costa Rica and their Ministry for Environment have created a programme that pays citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems. This programme has had incredible results, with Costa Rica’s forests doubling in size. An estimated $4 billion was also added to the economy due to ecotourism as flora and fauna thrived. Now the government plans to move this approach to urban areas.





An estimated $120 billion of agricultural waste is generated each year. But much of this farmers cannot sell, so they often burn it. This smoke is incredibly dangerous for both human health and the environment. The burning of agricultural waste can reduce life expectancy by a decade in some areas, as the air pollution is so bad. In New Delhi smoke from agricultural man-made fires fills the air, which has a serious impact on the health of locals. 

Takachar was developed by Vidyut Mohan. His social enterprise comes in the form of a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms. This machine converts crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertiliser. Takachar reduces smoke emissions by up to 98%, and if scaled, could cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. It also holds promise in reducing waste and adding to local economies. 



AEM Electrolyser


Renewable energy development is incredibly important in the challenge against climate change. These renewable technologies have been advanced dramatically, but still 70% of our energy is nonrenewable. 

Enapter began in the South Pacific Island by Vaitea Cowan three years ago with the aim of creating a green hydrogen technology that could power the world. Their AEM Electrolyser technology turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. This technology is already fuelling cars and planes, powers industry and heats homes. Their aim is to help scale mass production, which is planned to begin in 2022.



The City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs


Even though hundreds of millions of people suffer from food insecurity, it is estimated that a third of all food produced globally is wasted. Not only could that food be used to feed others, it also wastes precious resources and puts added pressure on agriculture. The global food system also generates between 25-30% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. 

The City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs was launched in 2019 to tackle these issues. By 2030 they hope to halve waste by recovering food from supermarkets and canteens. This food is then given to NGOs who distribute it to citizens in need. So far the city has three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350 kg per day, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent.



The ceremony and the individual episodes which feature more about the issues being tackled, and information about all of the finalists can be found here

More information about the prize and the winners can be found here



Earthshot Prize

Coral Vita

Republic of Costa Rica



The City of Milan