Prince William's Earthshot Prize Finalists Revealed! Meet Who Is in the Running for the $1.2 Million Prizes

Prince William attended the second Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City on Tuesday, announcing the change-makers repairing the planet

<p>Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images</p> Prince William in June 2023

Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Prince William in June 2023

The finalists in the running for Prince William's 2023 Earthshot Prize awards have been unveiled!

At the second annual Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City on Tuesday attended by the Prince of Wales, the names of the 15 finalists competing for this year’s five Earthshot Prize awards were revealed for the first time.

The finalists represent six continents and were selected from more than 1,000 nominees for their commitment to solving global climate challenges.

The winners across five categories will receive $1.2 million to scale and accelerate their project's goals. The winners will be announced at the third annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony in Singapore on Nov. 7 which Prince of Wales, 41, is expected to attend. For the first time, the ceremony will also be accompanied by a series of events as part of Earthshot Week. Beginning November 6, the week will see global leaders, businesses and investors convene in Singapore to explore exciting opportunities with The Earthshot Prize Winners and Finalists aimed at accelerating their solutions and bringing about tangible action to repair the planet.

"The Earthshot Prize is all about showing the world that solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges we face are out there. After two years of discovering impactful ideas and innovations, I am delighted that The Earthshot Prize is traveling to Singapore, where the groundbreaking solutions of our 2023 Finalists will be celebrated," Prince William said in a statement in May.

This year's finalists were selected by The Earthshot Prize’s Expert Advisory Panel, a global panel of 59 scientific, academic and subject-matter experts. Prince William and the Earthshot Prize Council, a global body of activists, experts and influencers, will select the five winners. The Earthshot Prize Council is chaired by The Earthshot Prize Board of Trustees Chair, Christiana Figueres DBE, architect of the Paris Agreement, and includes Queen Rania of Jordan, Cate BlanchettSir David Attenborough, Stella McCartney and more.

In addition to the monetary prize for the winners, all of the finalists will receive mentorship, resources and technical support from The Earthshot Prize Fellowship Program, a year-long program for each cohort of 15 finalists to continue their research.

Prince William founded The Earthshot Prize in 2020 to protect and restore the planet. The prize is centered around 5 different areas of climate protection: Protect & Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build A Waste-free World and Fix Our Climate.

Related: Prince William Surprises Food Truck Customers with Burgers Inspired by His Earthshot Prize in New Video

Keep reading to learn more about this years’ finalists across five categories.

Protect and Restore Nature

Acción Andina (Peru): Acción Andina is a grassroots, community-based initiative working across South America to protect native high Andean forest ecosystems for their invaluable benefits to nature and millions of people in the region.

Freetown the Tree Town (Sierra Leone): Combining community stewardship and digital tools, the City of Freetown’s initiative, Freetown the Tree Town, is galvanizing a grassroots movement for tree preservation in Sierra Leone's capital.

Belterra (Brazil): Belterra works with smallholder farmers in Brazil to restore forests through regenerative agricultural practices and to create market incentives forsustainably grown crops.

Protect and Restore Nature

Polish Smog Alert (Poland): One of the world’s most effective conservation campaign groups, Polish Smog Alert, helps secure policy change and air quality improvements across Poland and has goals to do the same across Central and Eastern Europe.

ENSO (UK): ENSO creates tyres specially designed for electric vehicles that are more sustainable and reduce harmful tyre pollution, leading to cleaner air for everyone.

GRST (Hong Kong): With the development of a new way to build and recycle vital lithium-ion batteries, GRST’s solution offers a pathway to make the electric cars of the future even cleaner.

Revive Our Oceans

Abalobi (South Africa): Using easy-to-scale technology, Abalobi works with small fishing communities to record their catch data and to ensure a fair and improved livelihood from sustainable fishing.

Coastal 500 (Global U.S. HQ): A global network of mayors and local government leaders, Coastal 500 is restoring ocean habitats and advocating for coastal protection internationally.

WildAid Marine Programme (Global U.S. HQ): Global non-profit organization WildAid uses partnership building and knowledge sharing to address the world’s ocean conservation needs.

Build a Waste-Free World

S4S Technologies (India): S4S Technologies’ solar-powered dryers and processing equipment combat food waste, enabling small-hold farmers to preserve crops and turn produce that might otherwise go to waste into valuable products.

Circ Inc. (U.S.): US-based company Circ has created a groundbreaking solution to enable the recycling of polycotton fabrics, which make up half of all textile waste.

Colorifix (UK): Colorifix uses DNA sequencing and nature's own colors to create sustainable dyes that reduce the fashion industry’s use of water and harmful chemicals.

Related: Prince William Makes First Appearance of New York City Trip — Find Out Why He Waded in the East River

The team lead of Freetown the Tree Town, Manja Kargbo, tells PEOPLE exclusively at the summit that the idea for their project came from former mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr. "She became mayor, and environmental management was a big part of what she wanted to do," Kargbo says. "So we had these planning labs and sessions and one of the targets ended up being to ensure that we increase tree coverage in Freetown by 50%. That was a tough order. Some colleagues of mine went back and forth, and the Freetown the Tree Town idea just came about."

Kargbo tells PEOPLE they were "so excited" to find out they were finalists of the 2023 Earthshot Prize.

"Freetown the Tree Town started in 2022, so it's something we've been working on for a while. There's been so much impact but we know that we can do more," she says. "To be able to take this to other parts of our country and also to the region and to the world generally would be amazing. So being told we were finalists I couldn't contain myself. I called my team and was like, 'Oh my gosh guys! We made it!' "

"It's so much work, and I'm not working by myself. We're working together and bringing our ideas together. We're working in communities, we're working with people and we see the issues," Kargbo adds. "As we continued to dive deeper we realized the magnitude of the disasters we have because of cutting down trees."

"We get funding from the World Bank, we get funding from agencies, we get funding from private sectors but it starts and stops and starts and stops," Kargbo. "If we win we will use the money to create an investment platform. We're going to talk to the banks, we're going to talk to the corporations. We're going to talk to individuals to say: 'You need to invest in trees in Freetown.' Once we're able to set that system we're going to take it out to other parts of the country and West Africa and then the world."

Peter Majeranowski, CEO and founder of Circ Inc, tells PEOPLE exclusively about his work to enable the recycling of polycotton fabrics.

"Clothing is a really artistic thing. But we really don't understand where it comes from, who's making it, when it's made and what it's made from," he says. "A majority of our clothing is made from plastics. Less than 1% of it gets recycled. It's a huge environmental problem, and the only real solution is to convert this very old system of clothing and you need technologies like ours to do it."

"We've always had a mission to protect the planet, and that's been our singular focus," Majeranowski tells PEOPLE. "We're really excited to offer solutions to fix the challenges the fashion industry is bringing to our climate."

Of being an Earthshot Prize finalist, he says it's a combination of "incredible excitement" while being "very emotional."

Majeranowski says, "I was at a conference in Madrid on fashion and quickly took the call from the Earthshot Prize committee in my hotel room thinking it was just more follow-up questions for the application process and was shocked and was very emotional when I found out instead we were selected as finalists."

"We want to use the money to document the journey of clothing," Majeranowski tells PEOPLE. "I think a lot of people don't realize how it's made, where it's made, who makes it, what happens to it. We want to show how we can take a garment, when it's at its end of life and recycle it back and make new garments. We really want to highlight to the world that we have a solution that's ready, we just need to scale it as fast as possible."

"It's a fantastic honor that Prince William selected us as one of the finalists," Majeranowski continues. "I don't think there's more we can say other than we appreciate this platform to be able to share our solution."

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