April 22 is Earth Day, and for the occasion, Prince William's Earthshot Prize has shared a letter signed by members of its Earthshot Prize Council. It is encouraging people to come together to protect the planet in the same way we have been doing in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Photos of the Earthshot Prize Council signing the letter were shared on the Earthshot Instagram and website. The images featured Cate Blanchett, Shakira, former UN Climate Chief and founding partner of Global Optimism Christiana Figueres, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi, Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, Chinese former professional basketball player Yao Ming, Nigerian-born economist and international development expert and former Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, the coordinator of Indigenous women and Fulani people association of Chad and co-chair of International Indigenous People Forum on Climate Change.
"Members of our Earthshot Prize Council have signed an open letter calling on the world to channel the same spirit of innovation from the fight against COVID to our greatest challenge: repairing our planet," the letter reads.
The full open letter is on the Earthshot Prize's website. It is signed by all 13 members of the council, including the Duke of Cambridge, Queen Rania of Jordan and legendary natural historian Sir David Attenborough. Brazilian professional soccer player and rain forest campaigner Dani Alves and Jack Ma, co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, round out the group.
"This Earth Day, the world is in the midst of the worst health emergency in over a century. Almost three million people have died. Lives have been put on hold, jobs lost, education halted," reads the letter.
"But humanity is rising to the challenge. People everywhere have worn masks, stayed at home and made sacrifices for the greater good. The availability of vaccines after just a year is both a triumph of science and a victory for collaboration."
The note compares environmental issues to COVID-19 and how we cannot be complacent.
"There is a long way to go. None of us are safe until everybody is safe. But we have learned what it means to pull together in the face of a truly global crisis.
"These lessons apply not just to pandemics but to the most pressing challenge in human history: stopping the climate emergency," states the letter. "If we do not act in this decade, the damage to our planet will be irreversible, impacting not only those of us alive today but threatening the future of generations to come.
"Now is the time. This Earth Day, as the Leaders’ Summit on Climate kicks off the countdown to November’s COP26 Climate Conference in the UK, we must be inspired by the ingenuity and determination of the past year. We must transform our relationship with our planet, learning from those already living in harmony with nature and recognizing that we all have a part to play. A better future is possible.
"As people around the world queue up for their vaccinations, now is the time to harness that same spirit of invention and give the Earth a shot, too."
William launched the Earthshot Prize in December 2019. It's described as "the most prestigious environmental project in history," and wants evidence-based solutions to help fix the emergencies facing the natural world.
The Earthshot Prize is centred around five "Earthshots," or categories: Fix Our Climate, Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans and Build a Waste-Free-World.
The Earthshot Prize will name five winners, one per Earthshot, whose evidence-based solutions make the most progress towards the highlighted goals. The prizes could be awarded to teams, a range of individuals or collaborations. The hope is the winners' work will "provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030," according to the Earthshot Prize website.
The global Prize Council is made up of leaders from environmental, philanthropic, business, sporting and entertainment worlds, and the awards will also look at all sectors of society.