Prince William gets personal ahead of Friday's unveiling of the finalists for his ambitious Earthshot Prize for environmental innovation

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Cambridge family
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte
| Credit: BBC

Prince William is a proud father and vocal advocate for the environment — and with his groundbreaking Earthshot Prize initiative, he's found a way to bring those two passions together.

Since he first conceived of the Earthshot Prize as a way to tackle some of the world's most pressing issues, William has always had Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3, in mind.

According to Jason Knauf, chief executive of the Royal Foundation, "The challenge the Duke set himself was, 'What is the maximum positive personal contribution I can make in the next 10 years in the fight against climate change? What am I going to do in the next decade that means I can look my children in the eye and say that I did my bit? Every aspect of the Prize bears the stamp of his contribution."

In the foreword he wrote for Earthshot: How to Save Our Planet, the 39-year-old prince goes into more detail about his mindset and motivations for the ambitious project.

"I have seen people all over the world face what seem like insurmountable challenges yet come together with collective ambition, and a can-do-spirit, to find solutions to them," he writes. "I strongly believe that change is possible, when you put your mind to it. I started thinking about what to do to change the equation to something else: urgency + optimism = action," William writes.

His goal was to create a prize that would ensure a decade of innovation capturing the best ideas to confront the urgent environmental problems facing the world.

Earthshot also has historical roots in the prince's longtime fascination with U.S. President John F. Kennedy's wildly ambitious 1960s Moonshot space exploration initiative: "Kennedy's Moonshot spirit of human ingenuity, purpose and optimism, and turn it with laser-sharp focus and urgency on to the most pressing challenge of our time — repairing our planet."

Earthshot - How to Save our Planet
The jacket for the new Earthshot book
| Credit: Hodder & Stoughton General Division

The Earthshot book highlights what the Royal Foundation says is "the urgency of the environmental challenges facing our world," as well as helping readers find optimism in the case studies of the "incredible solutions happening globally to repair our planet and ... ways we can all make a difference."

The book features contributions from members of The Earthshot Prize Council, a global team of influential individuals who will be responsible for awarding the prize annually through 2030.

Among the Council members are broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough (a favorite of the Cambridge kids!); Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism and former UN Climate Chief responsible for delivery of the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change; singer and philanthropist Shakira Mebarak; environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, and former astronaut onboard the International Space Station Naoko Yamazaki.

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Friday at 7 a.m. ET (12 p.m. U.K. time), the first 15 Earthshot Prize finalists will be unveiled on The Earthshot Prize's YouTube and Facebook channels. The finalists were chosen from a global pool of submissions based on five categories: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build a Waste-free World and Fix our Climate.

Then on October 17, Prince William will announce the first five winners (one for each category) who will each receive a $1.4 million award to help them meet their goals. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC in the U.K. and Discovery in the U.S. and the rest of the world. From there, winners will be awarded each year for the next decade.