Prince William and Duchess Kate reveal first Earthshot Prize winners at star-studded gala

By Zach Harper, with files from Heather Cichowski

Prince William and Duchess Kate were joined by celebrities including Emma Watson, Emma Thompson and Sir David Attenborough as they revealed the first-ever winners of the Earthshot Prize Awards on Oct. 17.

At London's Alexandra Palace, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge honoured five winners across five different categories – or Earthshots - who will each receive £1 million ($1.7 million) to recognize their innovations and what they've done to help the planet. You can watch the entire broadcast live below:

The Republic of Costa Rica won in the Protect and Restore Nature category for its project that paid citizens to plant trees, do work on reinvigorating and restoring ecosystems and protecting them.

Indian entrepreneur Vidyut Mohan's Takachar won in the Clean Our Air category. His firm has created a portable machine that converts residues from farms and crops into fuel and fertilizer, and reduces emissions from farms by 98 per cent, according to the Earthshot Prize website.

A groundbreaking project to grow coral on land to be replanted back in the oceans that's the brainchild of the Bahamas' Coral Vita won in the Revive Our Oceans category. Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern's project also uses "methods [that] grow coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods," the prize's website says.

The City of Milan, Italy won in the Build a Waste-Free World category for its Food Hubs. It takes food from supermarkets and business kitchens and gives it to non-governmental organizations to be distributed to those experiencing hunger. It saves 130 tons of food per year, which is about 260,000 meals, according to Earthshot.

AEM Electrolyser, a project that's a joint effort between Thailand, Germany and Italy, won in the Fix Our Climate category. The project converts renewable electricity into hydrogen gas, which doesn't create emissions, and is being used to fuel methods of transport and homes. The winners want to use their funding to take the Electrolyser into mass production that it can be generating 10 per cent of the world's hydrogen by 2050.

Kate looked spectacular in a recycled Alexander McQueen gown we first saw her in more than a decade ago. Photo: © Getty Images

Kate handed out the final award of the evening, which went to Costa Rica, and made a speech about the planet and the importance of protecting it before she announced the winner.

"Nature is vital to us all," the duchess said. "A thriving natural world regulates our climate, nurtures our physical and mental health and helps feed our families.

"But for too long, we've neglected our wild spaces – and now we're facing a number of tipping points.

"If we don't act now, we will permanently destabilize our planet and we will rob our children of the future they deserve. Our Earthshot Prize finalists show us, however, that we can, by 2030, see the natural world growing, not shrinking, for the first time in centuries."

William also gave a speech in which he promised young people watching the show that he would use the Earthshot Prize to tirelessly fight to save the planet.

"For too long, we haven't done enough to protect the planet for your future," he said in his remarks. "The Earthshot is for you. In the next 10 years, we are going to act. We are going to find solutions to repair our planet."

No one flew to London for the event, which was held on an entirely recycled stage that contained no plastic, and at which guests were encouraged to "consider the environment" with what they wore.

Emma Watson's outfit was made using 10 different looks and came from Oxfam. Photo: © Getty Images

So it made sense that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recycled much-loved looks from their wardrobes. Kate was wearing a Grecian-style lilac gown by Alexander McQueen. We first saw her wear it when she and William visited Los Angeles and attended a BAFTA event following their 2011 Canadian tour. William, for his part, was wearing a green velvet blazer from Reiss that he previously wore to the 50th anniversary gala for youth homelessness charity Centrepoint in 2019.

RELATED: Duchess Kate stuns in recycled Alexander McQueen look at Earthshot Prize Awards

Many of the celebrity guests and presenters also came wearing sustainable looks. Emma Watson's dress, which came from Oxfam, was made using 10 different gowns, while Emma Thompson was wearing the same blue pantsuit she wore while she received her damehood from William back in 2019, along with vegan shoes.

In the name of sustainability – and, perhaps, sentimentality – Emma Thompson chose the outfit she wore the last time she and William saw each other. Photo: © Getty Images

"On our little notes, they said, 'Please do not buy anything new for this.' Can you imagine! The relief! So I got my dame suit that I wore when I went to the Palace," Emma joked.

William launched the Earthshot Prize in December 2019. It is described as "the most prestigious environmental project in history" and wants evidence-based solutions to help fix the emergencies facing the natural world.

Following these first prizes being given out, Earthshot Prizes will be handed out to five Earthshots every year until 2030. The hope is the winners' work will provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by the end of the decade.

The next Earthshot Prize Awards will take place in the United States, the Duke of Cambridge announced during the 2021 gala. That's very exciting, and it makes us wonder if we might see appearances from Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who are also both passionate advocates for the planet.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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