Visiting the incredible pavilions at Expo 2020, I was struck by the optimistic message Dubai is sending to its millions of international visitors – that when the world comes together, we can create a better tomorrow.
It is a vision that is shared by the UK too, as demonstrated by our two countries’ strong and enduring links.
This celebration of innovation, sustainability and collaboration is an ethos that sits at the heart of my work with The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In 2020, we established The Earthshot Prize. Inspired by president John F. Kennedy’s Moon Shot, The Prize aims to discover, accelerate and scale ground-breaking solutions to repair our world.
We are in a decisive decade for our planet. Over the next 10 years, if we do nothing, we will face increasingly devastating crises as a result of our changing climate. Or we can step up now and take the action needed to repair and regenerate our planet.
The choice we must make is obvious.
We must make this the decade of the Earthshot. A decade where we all step up to change the course of our planet’s future.
And while it won’t be easy, with optimism, innovation and partnership I firmly believe we can achieve the seemingly unachievable.
Our 2021 finalists showed us that change is possible. Like the astronauts of the 1960s, these are the pioneers. Their ideas and solutions show that we can choose a better and more sustainable path for our planet.
However, they cannot do it alone – they need support and investment to accelerate their work. That’s why I was thrilled to be part of the first-ever Earthshot Prize Innovation Showcase here in Dubai, where some of our fantastic 2021 finalists pitched their solutions to an influential audience of global business leaders, investors and philanthropists.
At the showcase, DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem announced £1 million of funding for two Earthshot innovators to ramp up their work.
Earthshot Prize winner ‘Coral Vita’, whose innovative coral farming approach grows resilient coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods, will receive £500,000 to expand the project from their base in The Bahamas and lay the foundations for the first-ever commercial land-based coral farm for reef restoration in the Middle East.
Another £500,000 will go to Earthshot Prize finalist ‘Living Seawalls’ to scale their work creating modular habitat panels which are fitted to coastal sea structures and bring marine life back to shorelines. DP World’s commitment will fund the design and installation of the largest living seawall on the planet adapted to support the native marine life of the UAE and wider region.
The Earthshot mission is more than just a prize. It is a global team effort to transform our future.
It is precisely this joining up of the right people, with the right skills and ambition that can unlock potential and change the world for the better.
But as well as looking to the future, we must safeguard the natural world that we have now.
Back in 2014, we established United for Wildlife to highlight that some of our world’s most iconic species were at risk of extinction due to poaching and the wider illegal wildlife trade.
We recognised that conservation charities acting alone stood no chance against this threat. It needed a joined-up approach. By bringing together transport and finance companies alongside charities and law enforcement agencies, we started to build a shared bank of knowledge, technology and training with the ultimate aim of ending this abhorrent trade.
DP World, owner of Jebel Ali Port here in Dubai, was one of the first to recognise and back our ambitious plans. Since then, its unwavering commitment to this work is a tremendous example of the impact private companies can have in the global effort to protect the planet.
It has been a leading supporter in forming an international network of partners and I am excited to see how it will pioneer new, cutting-edge technology at the port in Dubai and across its global network. This investment will help to dramatically improve detection rates of animal products in cargo.
On top of this, I’m delighted that Dubai Airport has also committed to a shared goal to join our network. This will make it harder for criminals to operate internationally.
Collectively, I hope that United for Wildlife and The Earthshot Prize will have a real, tangible impact on the future of our natural world here in the UAE and around the globe.
I know that the UAE, a longstanding friend of the UK, shares these same goals. It is a privilege to have been here and have had the opportunity to work with the Emirati people for the benefit of us all.
Together, with a little bit of optimism, we can achieve great things.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is the second in line to the British throne