Earthshot Prize: Royals choose big-name businesses to support climate and nature innovation fund

Ikea, Microsoft and Unilever are among the businesses selected by the Duke of Cambridge to support the projects which will be backed by the Earthshot Prize - a £50m scheme supporting innovations tackling the climate and nature crisis.

Sir David Attenborough and Prince William are among the members of the council deciding how the funding will be awarded

Sir David Attenborough and Prince William are among the members of the council deciding how the funding will be awarded

The Earthshot Prize was first introduced at the start of 2020 and, last October, Prince William and Kate Middleton provided more information on how the £50m prize would be allocated through to 2030. The focus areas for the funding are conserving and restoring nature; tackling air pollution; reviving oceans; building a waste-free world and addressing climate change.

Prince William and The Royal Foundation have today (1 September) officially launched a new ‘Global Alliance’ of businesses which will help the winners to scale their solutions. Sitting on the Global Alliance are professional services firm Arup; Bloomberg; ‘Big Four’ accounting firm Deloitte; international law practice Herbert Smith Freehills; Japanese conglomerate Hitachi; Ikea’s parent company Ingka Group; tech behemoth Microsoft; African entertainment company The Multichoice Group; health and beauty giant Natura &Co; mobile network operators Safaricom and Vodacom;  software firm Salesforce; Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant Unilever and grocery retailer Walmart.

The Royal Foundation said in a statement that the businesses had been selected based on their ability to help scale solutions and their existing commitments to environmental and social sustainability.

“The capability of this group of businesses to nurture and grow the impact of the Finalists’ extraordinary solutions to environmental challenges should provide optimism and hope to innovators around the world,” said the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) director-general Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who sits on the Earthshot Prize’s council.

“The world needs more bright ideas to solve our biggest problems and the private sector is helping bring these innovations to more people and regenerate the natural world.”

“Sustainability is fundamental to how business is conducted; collaboration with the private sector is critical in order to propel sustainable environmental innovation,” added fellow Earthshot Prize council member Indra Nooyi, former chair and chief executive at PepsiCo.

“These companies can accelerate our progress toward a more sustainable future with their global reach and impact. By leveraging their expertise, size and scale, they can supercharge the adoption of solutions created by our Earthshot Prize finalists and winners — solutions that will ultimately improve lives around the world and restore our planet.”

The finalists for the 2021 round of funding under the Earthshot Prize will be announced later this month. There will be 15, of which five will receive £1m of funding – one for each of the focus areas for funding.  Winners will be chosen from the finalists by the Earthshot Prize’s council which, aside from the Global Alliance businesses, includes representatives from non-profits, academia, research organisations and philanthropic foundations. Aside from Okonjo-Iweala, Nooyi and the Prince himself, council members include Sir David Attenborough, Christiana Figueres and Luisa Neubauer.

More than 200 projects applied for a place on Prize this year. 

Sarah George



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