Earthshot Prize: Asia Leads the Quest to Fix the Planet

  • Suranjana Tewari
  • BBC News, Singapore

image source, Getty Images

image caption,

Floods are becoming more common in the low-lying areas of the Asia Pacific

In a village in western India, women are picking onions that have been stored in orange metal dryers that are changing their lives.

This is a simple, almost elementary technology. However, they help farmers process surplus or inferior crops that would normally go to waste into valuable products that can increase their profits.

The dryers have been deployed in around 400 villages and are manufactured by India’s S4S Technologies, one of five organizations that won an Earthshot prize this week. 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) award in 2014. launched by Britain’s Prince William to find and scale innovative solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges.

“S4S is working with women farmers to create a new food ecosystem that reduces waste and increases in greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the world’s food needs,” Nidhi Pant, founder of S4S Technologies, said in a statement after the award ceremony. Singapore.

Farmers in India struggle with the effects of climate change every day, and they are not alone. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified the Asia-Pacific region as the most vulnerable to climate change, with 13 of the continent’s 30 countries facing major recessions.

Home to several low-lying coastal cities at risk of flooding and typhoons, the region is also experiencing a sharp increase in heat and humidity; Extreme rainfall is expected in some areas, and drought in others.

But Asia is also full of innovation, actress Cate Blanchett said on the green carpet ahead of the Earthshot Awards. “There are so many people of all ages and demographics, from all cultures, who are actually doing things in their communities, in their regions, to address the challenges of a very rapidly changing climate.”

Turbocharger solutions

The founders of Hong Kong-based GRST, which won in the Clean Our Air category, are hoping to drive the transition to electric vehicles around the world with their green lithium-ion battery technology. They plan to use the prize to expand their operations – GRST manufactures its batteries in China, where it also sells them, but plans to expand to Canada, Europe and Singapore.

“Manufacturing batteries normally emits a lot of emissions and toxic chemicals. We’ve replaced them with water and water-soluble materials, so [it’s] very clean and consumes much less energy. But the most important thing is at the end of life, our batteries [more] easily recycled than water, so we can reduce the need for future mining,” they said at the award ceremony.

image source, Getty Images

image caption,

Prince William poses with the winners during the 2023 Earthshot Award Ceremony in Singapore.

Meaghan Brosnan worked for the US Coast Guard for 20 years before joining WildAid, which won the Revitalizing Our Oceans category.

WildAid works with communities and governments around the world, including China, the Philippines and Palau, to combat illegal fishing and protect ecosystems in marine protected areas. “We’re also working with some local communities to modify their fishing nets so they don’t catch and drown sea turtles,” Ms Brosnan said.

Aadith Moorthy, from the Indian state of Karnataka, is the founder of Boomitra, another Earthshot Prize winner. Mr. Moorthy works with farmers to improve their agricultural practices by testing soil conditions and increasing crop diversity.

in 2017 he was driving through an Indian village when he encountered the funeral procession of a farmer who had taken his own life due to a crop failure. This tragic moment eventually inspired Boomitra, which means “friend of the earth.”

Noting that Boomitra currently works with approximately 150,000 farmers on approximately five million acres of land worldwide, he emphasized that “two more zeros” need to be added to these statistics to get climate change moving.

The energy for innovation and solving the planet’s problems was palpable among the attendees and trustees on the green carpet.

“In the climate space, we all need both action and hope. And the finalists we see deliver both,” former New Zealand Prime Minister and Earthshot Trustee Jacinda Ardern said ahead of the ceremony.

image source, Getty Images

image caption,

The Earthshot Prize has many high profile trustees

Christina Figueres, who led UN climate talks for six years and played a key role in the negotiations that led to the Paris climate agreement, told the BBC she wanted to take Earthshot to Asia because the region is “leading the world into the future”.

Noting the growth rate in the region, the need for energy for both population and industrial productivity, Ms. Figueres praised the “remarkable, disruptive efforts” of people and organizations in Asia and the Pacific to address environmental challenges. contemporary fashion.

Prince William also expressed his hope that the Earthshot Prize would expand into a global movement for governments to get more involved in green sectors to help tackle climate change.

“Our winners and all of our finalists are a reminder that no matter where you are on the planet, the spirit of ingenuity and the ability to inspire change surrounds us all,” he said.

Additional reporting by Daniela Relph and Nikhil Inamdar.

Godfrey Kemp

"Bacon fanatic. Social media enthusiast. Music practitioner. Internet scholar. Incurable travel advocate. Wannabe web junkie. Coffeeaholic. Alcohol fanatic."