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Britain's Prince William recruits celebrities to launch global environment prize

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince William launched a multi-million-pound environmental prize on Thursday, teaming up with celebrities including footballer Dani Alves and Alibaba founder Jack Ma to launch a prize aimed at tackling the world’s climate problems.

With the high-profile project, William, the Queen’s grandson who is second-in-line to the throne, opened up a new chapter in the royal family’s decades-long environmental campaigning.

The Earthshot Prize will award five one-million-pound ($1.29-million) prizes each year for the next 10 years under the categories of protecting and restoring nature, cleaner air, reviving oceans, waste-reduction and climate change.

William has recruited a dozen global celebrities to join the Earthshot Prize Council to decide the winners.

As well as Brazilian footballer Alves and Chinese entrepreneur Ma, they include British naturalist David Attenborough, Queen Rania of Jordan, Australian actor Cate Blanchett, Colombian singer Shakira and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

William’s grandfather, Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip, and his father Prince Charles have both spoken for decades about the importance of conservation and the impact of climate change, years before such ideas became mainstream.

William told BBC Radio it was now his responsibility to take on that baton because the world was at a tipping point and he owed it to his children and grandchildren to leave the world in a better condition.

While he had often wondered what his father was “banging on about” he realised now it had been a very hard sell “to predict and see some of the slow-moving catastrophes that we were headed towards”.

“This is a generational baton-handling, my grandfather started it, my father has picked it up and really accelerated that and I feel right now that it’s my responsibility, I really feel that we are at a tipping point,” he said.

Speaking alongside Attenborough, William said change was critical in the next decade.

“By 2030 we really hope to have made huge strides in fixing some of the biggest problems the Earth faces,” William, 38, said.

“I think that urgency with optimism really creates action. And so the Earthshot Prize is really about harnessing that optimism and that urgency to find solutions to some of the world’s greatest environmental problems.”

Nominations open on Nov. 1 ahead of the first awards ceremony in the autumn next year.

Kensington Palace said the prize drew inspiration from U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot, which it said had been synonymous with ambitious and ground-breaking goals since the 1969 moon landing.

Further members of the Earthshot Prize Council will be announced in the coming months.

Reporting by Sarah Young, additional reporting by James Davey and Kate Holton; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Giles Elgood

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