The Duke of Cambridge spoke with young environmentalists over the weekend, congratulating them on their passion for global change and calling them ‘shining lights’ of the green movement.
In a conversation with the 2020 winners of the UN Environmental Programme Young Champions of the Earth, who William was chatting with as part of the Earthshot Prize, he told the group of seven that, “I’m incredibly inspired and just so proud about everything you guys have done.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the environmental space. If young people have a tiny bit of that passion that you have clearly shown a lot of, then there’s a really good opportunity to find your feet and find a way and do good in the environmental world.
“You are the shining lights of that movement and that interest. It allows people to see your path, your journey and go ‘do you know what, I want some of that, I can do that, I’ve got some ideas too.’”
The winners hail from all over the world: Nzambi Matee (Kenya); Lefteris Arapakis (Greece); Xiaoyuan Ren (China), Max Hidalgo Quinto (Peru); Vidyut Mohan (India); Fatemah Alzelzela (Kuwait); and Niria Alicia Garcia (United States of America).
William told the group that “If every young person educates their family on the environmental impact they are having, that in turn is making a difference, and changing the tide, and creating that momentum.”
William also told the group that he’d founded the Earthshot Prize partially out of optimism and hope that there is still time to take action and make profound changes. He then asked if they thought optimism was important as well, in striving for green initiatives.
“’I am from a family of fishermen and every year for the last 20 years we get less fish, my family has less and less of everything,” said Arapakis, a Greek man who co-founded a programme on sustainable fishing.
“Personally, I believe that we can make the change, because if we don’t believe that, we can just give up. It’s our only choice. Optimism is our main weapon against the climate crisis.”
Moyan, from Delhi, told William that the coronavirus pandemic has taught him frugality and using products that he needs versus what he may want. Moyan is an entrepreneur who turns waste into energy.
William agreed with him, saying, “It helps us, with the pandemic, to really refocus our lives a little bit and work out what’s really important to us.”
William also told the group, all of whom are under 30, that they could be in contention to win the first round of Earthshot Prizes, which will be awarded later this year in London. “Please keep an eye on the Earthshot Prize because hopefully that’s going to be something that all of you guys could easily be in the mix for.”