Royals Prince William Announces Earthshot Prize Finalists: Meet the Innovators Leading Environmental Change Prince William introduced the world to 15 environmental innovators he believes will lead global change in the next decade as part of his inaugural Earthshot Prize By People Staff Published on September 17, 2021 07:30 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Prince William. Photo: CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Friday marks a huge step forward to positive global change for Prince William as he introduces the 15 Earthshot Prize teams who've made it one step closer to securing a $1.4 million prize to advance their work in historic environmental impact and restoration. "I am honored to introduce the 15 innovators, leaders, and visionaries who are the first ever Finalists for The Earthshot Prize," said William. "They are working with the urgency required in this decisive decade for life on Earth and will inspire all of us with their optimism in our ability to rise to the greatest challenges in human history." The Duke of Cambridge, 39, has been involved in every aspect of the project since it was conceived in 2018 and announced in late 2019. He previously laid out the goals of the initiative: "The Earthshot Prize aims to mobilize collective action around our unique ability to innovate, problem solve and repair our planet." After they put out the call for submissions, Team Earthshot encountered a response that "far exceeded their expectations," according to a senior royal source. William worked closely with the Prize Council as they sifted through 750 contributions from 14 countries, and he is personally engaged with the finalists. William made the announcement in a video on the Earthshot Prize's YouTube channel at 7am ET on Friday. In it, he praised the "inspiring innovative solutions to repair our planet," that had been brought forward in the nomination process. "The ambition, quality and range of submissions has been amazing and should fill us all with optimism and hope that our goals for this decisive decade are achievable." Based on five critical categories for environmental action, the finalists are... PROTECT AND RESTORE NATURE Pole Pole Foundation (Democratic Republic of Congo): An inspiring community-led model of conservation that protects gorillas and local livelihoods.The Republic of Costa Rica: A pioneering scheme paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems that has led to a revival of the rainforest.Restor, Switzerland: A ground-breaking online platform connecting and empowering local conservation projects. CLEAN OUR AIR The Blue Map App (China): China's first public environmental database enabling citizens to hold polluters to account.Takachar (India): A pioneering technology to create profitable products from agricultural waste and put a stop to the burning of crops.Vinisha Umashankar (India): A 14-year-old innovator and activist who has designed a solar-powered ironing cart with the potential to improve air quality across India. REVIVE OUR OCEANS Coral Vita (Bahamas): A truly cutting-edge breakthrough in coral farming that can restore our world's dying coral reefs.Living Seawalls (Australia): Innovative and replicable seawall panels bringing marine life back to coastal sea defenses.Pristine Seas (USA): An unprecedented global conservation program protecting 6.5 million square kilometers of the world's ocean. BUILD A WASTE-FREE WORLD The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs (Italy): A city-wide initiative that has dramatically cut waste while tackling hunger.Sanergy (Kenya): A circular sanitation solution that converts human waste into safe products for local farmers.WOTA BOX (Japan): A tiny water treatment plant that turns 98% of wastewater into clean water. FIX OUR CLIMATE AEM Electrolyser (Thailand/Germany/Italy): An ingenious green hydrogen technology developed to transform how we power our homes and buildings.Reeddi Capsules (Nigeria): Solar-powered energy capsules making electricity affordable and accessible in energy-poor communities.SOLbazaar (Bangladesh): The world's first peer-to-peer energy exchange network in a country on the front-line of climate change. Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! Noting the intriguing fact that no finalists from the U.K. were selected, a senior royal source notes, "I'm sure there will be British finalists in the future." The source further points out that the U.K.-led initiative, including the October 17 Earthshot Awards in London, is part of the buildup to what is hoped to be a successful climate control conference, called COP, in Glasgow in November. In the lead-up to the gala, a landmark limited series called The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet, which William has helped make along with the team from Sir David Attenborough's groundbreaking nature shows, will air globally on discovery+ starting October 3. Then all five episodes of the series will air on Discovery in the U.S. on October 16 beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The award ceremony will be streamed live on Discovery's Facebook page on Sunday, October 17. William's staff at the Royal Foundation and Kensington Palace hope the upcoming events will capture the world's imagination, teasing, "What is going to happen in the weeks to come with Earthshot will become unmissable."