Mankind needs to “repair and regenerate our planet” in what will be a “decisive decade” for the environment, Prince William has said.
Writing for The National on a visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he highlighted initiatives such as the UAE-backed living sea wall that regenerates marine life as ways of averting ecological disaster.
The first official visit to the Emirates by the prince saw the royal write that the 2020s was the decade in which everyone had to “step up to change the course of our planet’s future”.
In a comment piece for The National, the Duke of Cambridge suggested that “when the world comes together, we can create a better tomorrow”, but if it failed to unite then the planet would “face increasingly devastating crises”.
He urged people to connect with each other to tackle the climate change threat. “Together, with a little bit of optimism, we can achieve great things,” he said.
“We are in a decisive decade for our planet,” Prince William told this newspaper. “Over the next ten 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.”
On his first official overseas trip for two years, the prince announced the winners of increased funding from the Earthshot Prize that he introduced in 2020 along with Sir David Attenborough to fund environmental innovations.
At the Earthshot Showcase, DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said a further £1 million would be given to two winners to “ramp up” their inventions.
Half will go to Earthshot Prize finalist Living Seawalls to help expand their advances in creating habitats for coastal sea structures that help bring marine life back to shorelines.
The extra funding, on top of £1 million already awarded, will help build “the largest living seawall on the planet” to support marine life in the Gulf.
The prince, 39, also announced that the other £500,000 would help Coral Vita, from the Bahamas, which has introduced a new method of farming coral, which makes it grow 50 times faster than traditional methods.
The funding for the undersea habitat, which is under significant threat from sea temperature rises, will also see the first commercial coral farm for reef restoration installed in the Middle East.
“The Earthshot mission is more than just a prize, it is a global team effort to transform our future,” Prince William wrote.
Following his visit to Expo 2020 Dubai, the second in line to the British throne added that he was “struck by the optimistic message Dubai is sending to its millions of international visitors”.
“It is a vision that is shared by the UK too, as demonstrated by our two countries’ strong and enduring links,” he said.
The Earthshot Prize, funded by philanthropists and charities, is awarded to five winners each year and is running until 2030 with an initial £1 million per project.
Prince William was inspired by former US president John F. Kennedy’s ambitious Moonshot project for a manned lunar landings to design a forum for “ground-breaking solutions to repair our world”.
“We must make this the decade of the Earthshot,” Prince William urged. Although it will be very challenging, he said that with “optimism, innovation and partnership” the world can “achieve the seemingly unachievable”.
He also praised the UAE’s efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade by introducing new technology to crack down on animal smuggling.
As part of his United for Wildlife campaign, he singled out DP World, the owner of Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, as “one of the first to recognise and back our ambitious plans” to help stop the “abhorrent trade”.
During a visit to the Middle East’s largest port, he watched cargo being unloaded from container ships and scanned for potential wildlife contraband.
DP World has pioneered new cutting-edge technology to “help to dramatically improve detection rates of animal products in cargo” he said. This was an example of private enterprise assisting the “global effort to protect the planet”.
The prince was “delighted” that Dubai Airport had agreed to join the network to defeat the illegal wildlife trade, making it “harder for criminals to operate internationally”.
He called the UAE a “long-standing friend of the UK”, saying the countries shared the same global goals.
“It is a privilege to have been here and had the opportunity to work with the Emirati people for the benefit of us all,” Prince William said.