Prince William Presents Earthshot Prize Winners

Britain’s Prince William joined celebrity guests at a glitzy awards ceremony in Singapore on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of the Earthshot Prize, an annual award that supports companies working to solve environmental problems. The heir to the British throne, who was in Singapore for his royal foundation’s work, handed out five prizes to winners ranging from solar-powered dryers that combat food waste to a program that makes electric car batteries cleaner. He said the solutions presented by all 15 finalists, including those focused on nature protection and the elimination of waste, prove that “hope does remain” even as the planet sets new records for extreme heat and climate change.

The prize-giving ceremony at the state-owned Mediacorp theatre saw actors Cate Blanchett, Donnie Yen and Lana Condor, singers One Republic and Bastille, and Australian wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin join hosts Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown. The five winners received PS1 million (US$1.7 million) each to help scale up their projects, which were chosen from a pool of 15 finalists. They were awarded in the categories of nature protection, cleaning the air, fixing the climate, reviving oceans and reducing waste.

William, who has a keen interest in the environment, spoke of the importance of finding novel ways to tackle climate change, which is why he and his royal foundation set up the Earthshot Prize in 2020, named after President John F. Kennedy’s challenge in 1962 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He called the winners of the first two ceremonies in London and Boston, as well as the winner in this year’s reader’s choice category, “superheroes for our ailing planet.”

After landing at Changi Airport, where the world’s largest indoor waterfall was illuminated green to welcome him, William took to X — formerly known as Twitter — to say that he is thrilled to be back in Singapore and to learn from its bold vision. “Singapore’s willingness to take risks and invest in the future shows what a difference one person can make,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Singaporean writer Sharlene Wen-Ning Teo won the Deborah Rogers writers’ award, a prize that gives authors PS10,000 to support them as they finish their first book. The judges praised her unpublished first novel Ponti as a narrative “of remarkable depth and resonance,” with Ian McEwan reading an excerpt of the work at the ceremony. The prize is administered by the National Book Development Council of Singapore. The 2021 NUS Singapore History Prize was won by Leluhur: Singapore Kampong Gelam, which was described as a “synthesis of history and primary sources” by the panel. The prize is open to books in any of Singapore’s four official languages — Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil.