2022 Earthshot Prize Winners
The Earthshot Prize is a charity founded in 2020 by Prince William. Earthshot was created to spur innovation in specific sectors that benefit the planet and its natural systems. The Earthshot Prize of £1 million is awarded to participants in five categories: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix our Climate.
Named Earthshot after US President John F Kennedy’s famous Moonshot speech delivered at Rice University in 1962, Earthshot symbolizes the hope and optimism humanity requires to save our planet from irreparable harm and protect future generations.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” – John F Kennedy, 12 September 1962
Below is a summary of the five recipients of the 2022 Earshshot Prize.
Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef – Revive our Oceans
In 2022 Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef won the Revive our Oceans category. Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef are a network of women trained as rangers who protect critical local ecosystems. Among many traditional methods, they also use drones to collect data on land degradation and monitor changes in coral.
Larissa Hale, a Yuku Baja Muliku woman leading the next generation of Indigenous rangers, accepted the prize on behalf of the Indigenous women. She leads the program’s efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef and works with an all-women team to restore the reef. They leverage more than 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge combined with modern technology to protect the reef.
Kheyti – Protect and Restore Nature
Kheyti, an Indian startup, won the prize in Protect and Restore Nature category with their greenhouse in a box. The greenhouse package provides an inexpensive, easy-to-deploy greenhouse that helps subsistence farmers protect their crops from the ravages of a rapidly changing climate.
According to Khetyi CEO Kaushik Kappagantulu, when combined with proper training, the greenhouse system can increase yields by seven times and use 98% less water than without it. A Khetyi greenhouse can help small, impoverished farmers double their incomes on average. At the time of writing, the company has distributed 1,000 greenhouses, which it intends to increase to 50,000 within five years.
Mukuru Clean Stoves – Clean our Air
Charlot Magayi, the founder of Mukuru Clean Stoves, is passionate about reducing household air pollution and improving household safety for African families who use wood stoves in their homes. As a young mother, a traditional wood stove seriously burned Ms. Magay’s daughter. This preventable accident was her impetus to find a safer, cleaner way for the 700 million Africans using these outdated devices.
Her company, Mukuru Clean Stoves, was established in Kenya in 2017. It is a social enterprise which designs and manufactures cleaner cooking technologies. The company uses recycled materials to keep manufacturing costs low and processed biomass, which is wood or charcoal, to reduce emissions.
Mukuru Clean Stoves works with women entrepreneurs to distribute its cookstoves. The company’s products have reduced fuel consumption by 30 to 60% and toxic smoke emissions by 50 to 90%, dramatically improving air quality in the communities where they are deployed. But not only are they cleaner to use and cheaper to run, but they are also safer for the millions of children that live in homes where they are used.
Notpla – Build a Waste Free World
The UN Environment Programme predicts that by 2040, 400 million tonnes of plastic will be produced yearly. Notpla believes the solution to the plastic packaging problem lies in the oceans.
Notpla is a London-based start-up that has developed an alternative to plastic packaging. Founded by Rodrig Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier, the company uses natural, renewable material sourced from seaweed to create a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging that is so good it is even billed as edible.
A circular solutions company, the plant-based material to create a sustainable, plastic-free packaging solution. Their products are recyclable, but in the event that they do not enter the recycling stream (and end up as waste), instead of polluting the environment, they degrade naturally in four to six weeks. Their seaweed-based material called “Notpla Coating” is used as a coating for cardboard, flexible film, PFA-free paperboard and even as food packaging.
44.01 – Fix Our Climate
Named for the molecular weight of Carbon, Oman, Jordan-based 44.01 sequesters carbon and transforms it into rock. The process is an accelerated version of a process found in nature. Other forms of carbon storage store carbon in spent oil wells and aquifers in a liquid form and require ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure the carbon is not accidentally released back into the atmosphere. 44001’s process turns it into rock and is permanent, meaning that the only way the carbon could ever be released is through intentional means.
The process forces carbonated water deep into underground seams of a mineral called peridotite. The peridotite fuses with the carbon and transforms it into rock, sequestering it forever. Because the company is based in Oman, where there are rich peridotite deposits, it is an unexpected economic benefit for the region. It is hoped the company will provide many technical jobs there. While peridotite is abundant near Oman, it is also found in America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Developing the industry in local regions will help avoid the expensive and fossil fuel-intense transportation of carbon and result in a higher net efficiency of sequestered carbon.
The Earthshot Prize is a huge incentive for entrepreneurs and scientists to develop products and processes that will move beyond research and idea toward real-world solutions to problems that affect billions of people on our planet.
The 2023 Earthshot Prize is already accepting nominations. For more information please visit the 2023 Earthshot Prize nomination page.