The Duke of Cambridge is hoping to summon the spirit of the lunar landings to help “repair the Earth”, after launching a global environmental challenge to address climate change and other ecological concerns.
The wildlife campaigner and father-of-three has set up The Earthshot Prize after consulting members of his family as well as veteran broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough in an attempt to provide solutions “to the world’s greatest problems”.
Kensington Palace said multimillion-pound prizes will be awarded annually to five winners around the world, in each year of the 2020s, in an initiative that draws inspiration from US President John F Kennedy’s ambitious Moonshot lunar space programme of the 1960s.
William said: “The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve.
“Remember the awe-inspiring civilisations that we have built, the life-saving technology we have created, the fact that we have put a man on the Moon. People can achieve great things.
“The next 10 years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.”
The new initiative, which has been under development for more than a year, aims to focus global attention on finding answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet, including climate and energy, nature and biodiversity, oceans, air pollution and fresh water, the palace said.
The prize could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – including scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries.
A global coalition of philanthropists and organisations will support the programme, with details about the challenges to be announced in special events around the globe at a later date.
In a special film launching The Earthshot Prize, Sir David said: “The spirit of the Moonshot can guide us today as we confront the serious challenges we face on Earth.
“This year Prince William and a global alliance launch the most prestigious environment prize in history – The Earthshot Prize, a global prize designed to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers to think differently.
“Visionaries rewarded over the next decade for responding to the great challenges of our time.”
Kensington Palace said William had spoken with his family about the project and “looks forward to involving as many of them as possible”.
The duke, who is patron of the Tusk conservation charity among others, has previously warned that the clock is ticking towards a time when Man’s impact on the environment will be irreversible.
William, who is also president of umbrella conservation group United For Wildlife, has also spoken out repeatedly against the ivory trade.