Terra Carta Design Lab: Prince of Wales' latest climate initiative to support students

Prince Charles has partnered with former Apple chief design officer Sir Jony Ive to develop a new scheme supporting students to develop "credible and sustainable" solutions to the climate crisis.

Winning designs will be unveiled in 2022. Image: RCA

Winning designs will be unveiled in 2022. Image: RCA

Called the Terra Carta Design Lab, the scheme is being run in collaboration with the London-based Royal College of Art (RCA). Students specialising in the arts, including design and architecture, will be joined by those specialising in science and engineering, as well as writing and history.  

An initial cohort of 2,300 students will be selected. They will receive support from RCA alumni and the Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta initiative, which convenes businesses in a set of shared environmental goals and principles in responding to the twin climate and nature crises. They will also be able to partake in, or observe, local initiatives working to restore biodiversity or accelerate decarbonisation, to develop or test concepts.

After participating in the Lab, there may be chances for the students to continue these collaborations, bringing innovations to maturity and scale with support from the private and public sectors. Under the Terra Carta, ten industry-led ‘Transition Coalitions’ have notably been developed to create sector-specific action plans. Coalitions will be launched before COP26 on energy; road transport; aviation; shipping; fashion and textiles; health systems; waste management; plastics and chemicals; technology and natural capital.

The RCA said in a statement that it “has a highly successful record of developing projects from ideas into reality” but that “it can take a long time for these solutions to be supported into production”. For example, edie has previously covered The Tyre Collective, a project developing a device that collects tyre particulates, minimising pollution, orchestrated by RCA graduates.

“The Terra Carta Design lab is a visionary and imaginative way of helping address the world's increasingly urgent environmental problems,” RCA chancellor Sir Ive said.

Often, the biggest challenges demand the most ingenious, most creative thinking, which is why I’m so excited about the work that the RCA students will be able to contribute through this collaboration. I know that their creativity and inventiveness will develop truly powerful solutions.”

“Small ideas can have a big impact if they are supported with the right design, science and engineering and that is the key idea behind today’s Terra Carta Design Lab,” Prince Charles added. “We only have 100 days until COP26, the big UN conference in Glasgow to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis, and we will all need to play our part, old and young, if we are to change how we look after the Earth, making it sustainable for nature, people and planet.”

Initial expressions of interest in the Lab are now open to RCA students. In November, a final shortlist of up to 16 concepts will be assessed. Then, the winning designs will be announced in 2022.


100 days to go: Catch up with edie's COP26 Action Tracker 

With less than four months to go until COP26, edie has launced a new COP26 Action Tracker, providing a regular temperature check of global climate action from nations and businesses.

The latest edition of the Action Tracker was published last week and features headlines including the launch of China's emissions trading scheme (ETS), as it strives to reach peak emissions by 2030, and protests against plans for a new oilfield in UK waters. Read the Action Tracker here. 

The COP26 Action Tracker is brought to you as part edie's Countdown to COP26 Festival – a six-month programme of exclusive content and events supported by headline partner O2. View all of edie's COP26 content here


Sarah George



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