Prince Rahim Aga Khan Announces AKDN’s Exciting Partnership with Prince William to Launch Earthshot Prize to Keep our Planet Habitable, and Ensure a Future for Life on Earth

Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

Inspiration Behind the Earthshot Prize: President John F. Kennedy and Moonshot

In 1962, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave his now famous “Moonshot” speech at Rice University in which he outlined his plans to put a man on the moon. The speech would go on to become one of the most quoted and celebrated speeches of all time, and JFK’s “Moonshot” would become synonymous with the idea of challenging the impossible. [1]


Prince William and the Earthshot Prize

Taking inspiration from Moonshot, which united millions of people around an organising goal to put man on the moon and catalysed the development of new technology in the 1960s such as the MRI scanner and satellite dishes, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, announced on October 6, 2020 the Earthshot Prize of £50 million, the most prestigious global environment prize in history. The goal is to improve life for us all on this planet for generations to come.

Prince William is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and late Diana, the Princess of Wales. Since birth, he has been second in the line of succession to the British throne. 

In 2019, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, welcomed Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Dutchess of Cambridge, to the Aga Khan Centre in London before the couple embarked on a tour of Pakistan between October 14th to 18th. A photo of Prince William taken at the Chiatibo glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan in October 2019, was released to mark the launch of the Earthshot prize.

Aga Khan and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mohammed Nafees Zakaria, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Aga Khan Centre in London on October 2, 2019. Featured photo on Barakah’s home page: The Duke of Cambridge signs the guest book at the Aga Khan Centre, as Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Duchess of Cambridge look on. Photos: The Ismaili / Anya Campbell.
A photo of Prince William in the Hindu Kush mountains released to mark the launch of the Earthshot Prize
This photo of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, taken by his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, at the Chiatibo glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan in October 2019, was released to mark the launch of the Earthshot prize. Photo: Duchess of Cambridge / PA.


Five Earthshot Challenges

Prince William’s Earthshot Prize initiative has been under development for over almost 18 months. It will refocus global attention on finding answers to the biggest issues currently facing the planet under the 5 following Earthshot challenges over the next 10 years. The videos and text of the 5 challenges are from the official Earthshot website. [2]

1. Protect & Restore Nature

Species all over the world face extinction as their homes are destroyed, but destroying nature threatens our lives too.

Forests and natural land are vital to human health and happiness, helping to prevent global warming and producing oxygen that we breathe. We must act now to protect our future.

We choose to repair and preserve the habitats that our animals need to live, from rainforests and grasslands, to wetlands, lakes and rivers.

We will award The Earthshot Prize to the most outstanding efforts to meet this challenge. To the conservationists who put a stop to poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking; to the landowners who create job opportunities for people who look after natural land; and to the entrepreneurs who help scale solutions for planting billions more trees that will secure the health and safety of generations to come.

2. Build a Waste-Free World

The world we have built is not like this; we throw everything away, and this is harming our planet.

But we have the power to build something better.

We choose to eliminate food waste, single-use packaging, and inspire a new generation of people, companies, and industries to reuse, repurpose, and recycle.

We will award The Earthshot Prize to the most outstanding efforts to meet this challenge. To the organisations that are eliminating single-use products and packaging; to the cities that revolutionise their waste management systems; and to the innovators who give new life to things destined for landfill.

We choose to build a system that can work forever, where people everywhere can live safe, healthy and happy lives, without waste.

3. Revive Our Oceans

Warmer temperatures, pollution and harmful fishing practices are having devastating impacts on the ocean, putting life underwater in jeopardy.

But this decade we can choose to make our ocean healthy.

We refuse to accept a world where turtles, dolphins and coral reefs vanish from our seas.

We choose to bring forward a new era where everyone uses the ocean sustainably.

We will award The Earthshot Prize to the most outstanding efforts to meet this challenge. To the innovators who revolutionise our understanding of life underwater; to the leaders who end criminal and unsustainable fishing practices; and to the technologists who repair coral reefs and show us how to remove pollution from the ocean on a global scale.

We choose a future where our children can enjoy the ocean for years to come, and where the ocean can continue to sustain and enrich all life on Earth.

4. Clean Our Air

Millions of children all over the world breathe toxic air every day, causing countless deaths that could be prevented.

We refuse to accept this – clean air and healthy lives are within our reach.

We choose to end outdated transport that emits toxic fumes, remove pollution from the air using both technology and nature, and eliminate the burning of fossil fuels, choosing 100% renewable energy for everyone – from big cities to rural villages.

We will award The Earthshot Prize to the most outstanding efforts to meet this challenge. To the innovators who create job opportunities in green transport and clean energy; to the businesses who remove more pollution from the air than they put into it; and to the communities who let us heat our homes, travel to work and feed our families without polluting the air that we breathe.

5. Fix Our Climate

Carbon in the atmosphere is making our planet warmer, to levels which threaten all life on Earth.

But it is not too late; if we act now, we can make the world a better, more sustainable home for everyone.

We will combat climate change by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than we put into it and ensuring all countries reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. We will build defences to protect innocent people from climate driven disasters and crises.

We will award The Earthshot Prize to the most outstanding efforts to meet this challenge. To the cities or countries who reach net-zero emissions; to the leaders who create millions of new jobs in a carbon neutral economy; to the technologists who remove carbon from the atmosphere on a global scale, whilst protecting human life and nature.

We choose to fix our climate so that life everywhere can thrive for generations to come.

Together, these 5 Earthshots form a unique set of challenges rooted in science, which aim to generate new ways of thinking, as well as new technologies, systems, policies and solutions. By bringing these five critical issues together, The Earthshot Prize recognises the interconnectivity between environmental challenges and the urgent need to tackle them together. [2]


Impact of the Earthshot Prize

It is expected that the 5 listed Earthshots will launch their own tidal wave of ambition and innovation across all sectors of industry and society, not just technology. The Earthshot Prize could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving these environmental challenges. In addition to a significant financial award, winners will receive large-scale public recognition for their work that will aim to inspire business and government collaboration and scaling. [2]


Winners of the Earthshot Prize

Every year from 2021 until 2030, Prince William, alongside The Earthshot Prize Council, which covers six continents, will award The Earthshot Prize to five winners, one per Earthshot. An awards ceremony will take place in different cities across the world each year between 2021 and 2030 to award five winners The Earthshot Prize. Five, one million-pound prizes will be awarded each year for the next 10 years, providing at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030. After the awards, each winner will receive a global platform and prestigious profile, with their stories being showcased over the decade with the ambition that their solutions lead to mass adoption, replication and scaling. The inaugural winners of Earthshot Prize will be announced in London in 2021. [3]

The £1 million in prize money will support environmental and conservation projects that are agreed with the winners. [2]

Shortlisted nominees will also be given tailored support and opportunities to help scale their work, including being connected with an ecosystem of likeminded individuals and organisations. [2]


Support for the Earthshot Prize

Global Alliance Founding Partners: A group of the world’s leading philanthropists and organisations will work with Earthshot to deliver the ambition, scale and reach of the Prize through both funding and shared partnership objectives. The first Global Alliance Founding Partners include the Aga Khan Development Network, The Paul G. Allen Foundation, Marc and Lynne Benioff, Bloomberg Philanthropies, DP World in partnership with Dubai EXPO 2020 and The Jack Ma Foundation. Other names will be announced over the coming months. [4]

Global Alliance Partners: Non-profit environment and sustainable development organisations to bring expertise, global reach and serve as nominating organisations each year. Global Alliance Partners include the World Economic Forum, WWF, The Green Belt Movement, Greenpeace and Conservation International. [4]

Global Alliance Members: Some of the world’s largest and most influential companies and brands, will support Earthshots, implement ambitious changes within their businesses and accelerate winning solutions. Global Alliance Members will be announced in due course. [4]

“Your children, my children – they have to find ways to reduce carbon emissions, to repair our oceans, to clean the air. So we need young minds to be informed and invested, which is why education is so important. But we can’t just stand still. We have to lead the way and we have to do it now.” Colombian Singer Shakira, member of Earthshot Prize Council. [5]

Earthshot Prize Council: The prizes will be awarded by a council, a global team of high-profile leaders from the environmental, philanthropic, business, sporting and entertainment worlds. The 13 members include actor Cate Blanchett, singer Shakira, Queen Rania of Jordan, Japanese former astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, Brazilian footballer Dani Alves, basketball star Yao Ming and Attenborough. [5]


Prince Rahim Aga Khan on AKDN as a Founding Partner for The Earthshot Prize

“It is our collective responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. At this critical moment, we must all nurture and invest in solutions that can repair our planet before it is too late.” Prince Rahim Aga Khan [4]

Prince Rahim and Prince Irfan at Prince Hussain's photographic exhibition in Lisbon Portugal.
Prince Rahim shows his son Prince Irfan a photograph taken by his brother Prince Hussain at the Nature Photographic Exhibition in Lisbon in July 2018 during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Prince Hussain’s deep passion and love for animals started during his childhood. His organization Focused on Nature (FON)), which is independent of AKDN, aims to help projects related to species conservation and slow habitat loss. In that respect, Barakah is of the opinion that grants that are made by Prince Hussain’s organization FON to organizations that have immediate impact projects in wildlife conservation, protection, preservation, and education have the potential of stirring creativity for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize initiative. Photo: The Ismaili / Shireen Nazim.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a Global Alliance Founding Partner with His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to launch The Earthshot Prize.  

Prince Rahim, eldest son of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and Chair of AKDN’s Environment and Climate Committee, said: “The Aga Khan Development Network is proud to be a Founding Partner of The Earthshot Prize. It is our collective responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. At this critical moment, we must all nurture and invest in solutions that can repair our planet before it is too late. 

“The AKDN has been working for over a century in Asia and Africa to improve quality of life – through education and healthcare, livelihoods and infrastructure, and long-term institutions of civil society. The decades of progress now hang in the balance: environmental degradation and climate change will wipe out these gains entirely unless we act now with urgency and conviction. 

“To do its part, AKDN has a net-zero carbon target for its own operations and will mobilise its agencies to mitigate the effects of climate change and help vulnerable communities to adapt. We are excited to partner with The Earthshot Prize which, over the next decade, will identify fifty solutions with the potential to keep our planet habitable. Working together, we can and must help ensure a future for life on Earth.”


Nominations for the First Prize

Nominations will open on 1 November 2020, with over 100 nominating partners from across the world being invited to submit nominations of those individuals, communities, businesses and organisations who could win The Earthshot Prize. Nominators will include the Global Alliance but also academic and non-profit institutions from across the world who have been selected for their ability to identify the most impactful solutions to the Earthshots. [3]

The 5-stage prize process to select a winner for each Earthshot has been designed in partnership with the Centre for Public Impact and a range of international experts. Nominations will be screened as part of an independent assessment process run by Deloitte, our implementation partner. A distinguished panel of experts will support the judging process, making recommendations to the Prize Council who will select the final winners. [3]


Awards Ceremony

An awards ceremony will take place in different cities across the world each year between 2021 and 2030, at which the five winners for each of the Earthshots will be selected from 15 finalists. The first awards ceremony will take place in London in autumn 2021. [3]

Date posted: October 12, 2020.

Before departing this website, may we invite you to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 225 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family.



Material for this post was prepared and compiled from the following websites:

[1] Shorty Awards: JFK Moonshot
[2] Earthshot Prize
[3] The Royal Foundation: The Earthshot Prize
[4] Aga Khan Development Network: AKDN Partners with HRH Prince William to Launch Prestigious Earthshot Prize
[5] The Guardian: Prince William Launches 50m Drive to Repair Planet

Other external links:


Malik Merchant and mother Maleksultan at the Vancouver Ismaili Centre, Barakah
December 2019: Malik with mum, Maleksultan, at the Ismaili Centre, Vancouver

Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Simergphotos (2012) and Barakah (2017). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in Mozambique, Tanzania, Pakistan, the UK and Canada in both professional and honorary capacities. Malik’s daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian and supports his endeavours as an honorary editor of the three websites.


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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamate.


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