Hannah Jones, CEO of the Earthshot Prize, speaks with PEOPLE about what's energizing the Prince of Wales as he heads into his third year of his environmental campaign
The Prince of Wales' environmental project announced on Sunday that the third annual awards ceremony will be held in Singapore on Nov. 7. Hannah Jones, CEO of the Earthshot Prize, exclusively tells PEOPLE about the next location, what it's like to work with the Prince of Wales and how the Earthshot team is revving up momentum to make this year more impactful than ever.
"I think he and we are all very excited to be in Asia. We think it's a real opportunity to spotlight what countries around the region are doing, what people are doing," Jones tells PEOPLE of spotlighting optimism in Singapore and Southeast Asia. With just six months to go, she adds that the Prince of Wales "doesn't stay still. His ambition continues to grow, and rightly so. The focus is still completely, 'What are we doing to impact? What is our impact? How do we scale our impact? How can we go faster?' "
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Jones notes that 2023 is the United Nations' first global stocktake to measure how well the world is lowering carbon emissions, a key tenet of the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, climate anxiety is on the rise, especially among young people.
"As you see those issues and that real need, it increases all of our and the prince's sense of urgency to have these solutions scale and to drive urgent optimism into young people's mindsets so that they feel they have the agency and the power to act to make a difference. We want to be the antidote, and he speaks to this a lot. How can we be part of the answer that is the antidote to people feeling defeatism?" Jones tells PEOPLE. "Because defeatism does not lead to action, and we're not asking people to hope without real evidence. We have the evidence in droves — close to 3,500 nominations cumulatively over the last two and a half years alone, each one of whom tells a story of someone that's decided they're going to do something about fixing the planet."
Prince William launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020 to promote impactful approaches to the world's most pressing environmental challenges, with plans to award the prizes until 2030. Winners receive £1 million ($1.2 million) and support to scale their solutions, focused on reviving and repairing the land, air or sea, to size. The inaugural awards ceremony was held in London in October 2021, followed by a glittering second cycle in Boston in December 2022.
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Accelerating momentum, the third annual awards ceremony will commence with an inaugural Earthshot Week. Starting Nov. 6, the special week will see global leaders, businesses and investors convene in Singapore to explore exciting opportunities with Earthshot Prize winners and finalists aimed at accelerating their solutions and bringing about tangible action to repair the planet. Members of the public will also be invited to experience local activations centered on the 2023 cohort of Earthshot solutions.
Over 1,100 entries were submitted to the life-changing climate challenge this year, with 60% of nominees active in the Global South. Finalists for the current cycle will be unveiled in the coming months, with winners announced at the November ceremony in Singapore.
With an eye on the future, the pressure is especially intense in the year of the U.N.'s global stocktake, Jones says.
"If you step back, by 2030, we need to have reduced carbon emissions as a world by about 40%, and we need to be protecting 30% of the world's nature and 30% of the world's oceans. That's a pretty hefty thing to get done in seven and a half years," the CEO of the Earthshot Prize tells PEOPLE of the aim.
"So it has to be the equivalent of President Kennedy's Moonshot. In fact, 7 ½ years is exactly what it took to land a man on the moon after he gave his speech [in 1962]. So we have to do the same thing this year. We have to drive everybody and say, 'We have to make those things happen.' "
The Prince of Wales, 41, was inspired by President John F. Kennedy's famed 10-year goal of landing on the moon while launching the Earthshot Prize. Last year's ceremony was held in Boston in a tribute to President Kennedy's birthplace, and the Earthshot mission embraces the same spirit of innovation in promoting impactful approaches to the world's most pressing environmental challenges through the next decade.
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