The Duke of Cambridge has spoken about the inspiration behind the Earthshot Prize and why he hopes his environmental initiative demonstrates the optimism of coming together over the next decade to solve the greatest climate crises in a podcast Friday.
Speaking to the hosts of Optimism + Outrage, William revealed that the Earthshot Prize was created to bring together the best minds all over the worl, working together to find solutions, and how he views the Prize’s job as helping to raise their voices and provide genuine and tangible solutions to climate and environmental problems.
“This decade of change that we’ve talked about, it’s crucial,” William said. “We’ll be doing five prizes for 10 years…effectively trying to bring the best talent forward. It’s always been a very careful and slightly pessimistic approach to the environment where there’s been a lot of calling out of ‘these are the problems’ we’re going to face.”
He added, “We don’t have to be staring down the barrel of a gun for the rest of our lives. Coupled with the urgency, the Earthshot Prize brings positivity and a real influence.”
William said that, in his younger days, he felt that pessimism and negativity was the way to wake people up to the issues surrounding the environment but that he found that for what he wants to achieve, it doesn’t really work. He added that sometimes that is the best approach and it’s always important to call out bad practices, but for him, he wanted to frame the conversations in a more positive way.
Speaking of his work with the illegal wildlife trade and how he applied that in a practical way, William said that, “The message when I went to China and talked to the Chinese government about trying to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was very much a case of, how about you guys being the global leaders in conservation? You can take on that mantle and you can really drive it forwards.
“And it’s a much easier conversation to have with someone and it’s not about getting out of a hard conversation – I’m very happy to have hard conversations – but an easy conversation where they can see what you’re getting at, they understand the consequences.
“At the end of the day, the vast majority of people, if they are presented with the science and the facts, they want to do the right thing. No one wants to do the wrong thing. And I think you have got to give people the opportunity to see the potential and the way forwards.”
Speaking about his family’s long work with conservation and other environmental issues, dating back to his grandfather and father’s work with the causes, William said that history always helps people to understand where to go in the future.
“It’s important to understand the history and the past to be able to carve out and plan for the future. We are where we are because of what’s gone before us, and so I think each generation…understands its responsibility better from the previous generation, and to look after, to nurture, to be custodians of the world.
“We need the action, and that’s what these next ten years is about.”