15 eco-award finalists with brilliant initiatives

Fifteen ideas to protect life on Earth are competing for a prize of £1 million. Prince William announced the finalists for the Earthshot Prize, which he hopes will become the “Nobel Prize for environmentalism”.

“Over half a century ago, President Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’ programme united millions of people around the goal of reaching the moon,” he said. “Inspired by this, The Earthshot Prize aims to mobilise collective action around our unique ability to innovate, problem solve and repair our planet.”

[Discover more ambitious projects to protect life on Earth through climate action]

Backed by Sir David Attenborough, the award aims to support initiatives to protect people and nature, repairing the planet over the next 10 years. 

Here are the 15 initiatives selected from more than 750 nominations competing for funding to help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Pole Pole Foundation

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, anger and expert tracker John Kahekwa learnt early on that poverty is often the root cause of poaching and deforestation. To beat these issues, he works with local communities, teaching them new skills that permit them to live in harmony with nature.

Republic of Costa Rica

In 20 years, the people and authorities of Costa Rica have helped the island undergo an extraordinary transformation, replenishing local biodiversity, habitats and ecosystems.

Restor

A global network of restoration efforts, Restor connects people to information, resources and funding so that they can help the natural world to thrive.

Sanergy

Nominated by Darwin College, the University of Cambridge, Sanergy offers an innovative and natural solution to waste. It replaces usual sewer systems with converters that create environmentally sustainable animal fodder, biofuel and fertiliser.

The Blue Map App

Ma Jun created the Blue Map, knowing that people can’t tackle environmental issues unless they can measure them first. It collects data about air and water quality so that communities can fully understand the need to drive climate action.

Takachar

Farmers in remote areas often burn agricultural waste, leading to catastrophic emissions. Takachar innovative technology helps convert this biomass into sustainable fuel, fertiliser and other useful products. 

Vinisha Umashankar

The only individual to make the finalists, 14-year-old Vinisha Umashankar invented a solar-powered ironing cart that she cycles around Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, South India, to replace the prevalent coal-powered street irons.

Coral Vita

After Hurricane Dorian destroyed their coral farm, Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern launched Coral Vita, an initiative to grow coral on land to replant and restore ocean systems.

Pristine Seas

Pristine Seas has one aim: to protect 30% of our oceans by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, National Geographic’s Explorer in Residence Dr Enric Sala united scientists, filmmakers and policy makers.

Living Seawalls

While artificial sea walls pose a threat to marine life, Living Seawalls uses ecological and engineering knowledge to offer an additional habitat that can help biodiversity to thrive.

The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs

Milan is forefronting the struggle against food waste with hubs set up across the city to redistribute unwanted food.

Wata Box

As clean water becomes increasingly scarce, Japan-based Wata Box offers a vital and effective filtration system that can be scaled up.

AEM Electrolyser

On the South Pacific Island of Vaitea Cowan, Enapter has discovered an innovative way to produce affordable hydrogen from renewable electricity.

Reeddi Capsules

Innovator Olugbenga Olubanjo could help the 600 million Africans without access to electricity, with his rentable solar-powered energy capsules.

Solbazaar

Solbazaar is an energy exchange network created in Bangladesh that offers a source of renewable energy for poor communities.