Prince William cheers on 15 finalists of Earthshot Prize ahead of awards ceremony

SINGAPORE (AP) — Britain’s Prince William cheered on 15 finalists of his third Earthshot Prize in Singapore Tuesday ahead of the awards ceremony where five of them will win 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) each to scale up groundbreaking innovations to fight climate change.

William spoke to the finalists — all whom are attending the ceremony for the first time for networking opportunities — at Gardens by the Bay, an artistic horticulture attraction. The winners are grouped into five categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change.

The finalists included a U.S. company that found a way to recycle polycotton fabrics, which makes up half of all textile waste. Others were an Indian company producing solar-powered dryers to help small farmers preserve crops and combat food waste; a scheme to plant, grow and digitally track trees in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown where 70% of trees have been cut down amid urban sprawl; an anti-smog movement in Poland which has the dirtiest air in Europe and a U.K. company making low-emission tires for electric vehicles.

The winners are chosen by a 13-member council that includes Jordan’s Queen Rania al Abdullah, Chinese business magnate Jack Ma, British fashion designer Stella McCartney, broadcaster David Attenborough, World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweale and former NBA star Yao Ming.

Apart from the prize money, all 15 finalists will receive a year of technical support and resources to help them accelerate their ideas. The Earthshot Prize was launched in 2020 by William’s Royal Foundation charity as a 10-year program to shore up innovative solutions and technologies against the planet’s greatest environmental perils.

William, 41, arrived Sunday for a four-day trip, his first in 11 years. The award ceremony is being held in Asia for the first time after the inaugural session in London and in Boston last year. He has said his wife, Kate, couldn’t accompany him as she was helping their eldest son George with school exams.

William will join celebrities later Tuesday to walk the ‘green carpet’ for the glitzy ceremony at the theater at MediaCorp., a state-owned media conglomerate. The ceremony will be co-hosted by actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown. Artists performing for the night are pop bands One Republic and Bastille, and U.S. singer Bebe Rexha.

Prizes will be presented by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, actors Donnie Yen, Lana Condor and Nomzamo Mbatha and Australian wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin.