“No one does optimism and ingenuity like American people,” the Prince of Wales has said as he landed in New York for the United Nations General Assembly and climate week.
Prince William travelled on a commercial flight from London to the US on Monday afternoon, ahead of his Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit on Tuesday.
He hailed the renowned positive American attitude upon arrival and said it was “only right” to unveil this year’s prize finalists in New York.
The Prince added: “Eighty years ago, the world came together in this great city to find a new way, through the UN, to solve our shared challenges.
“I know our generation can take the bold action we need to make changes towards a healthy and sustainable world.”
His comments came ahead of the second Earthshot Innovation Summit, where he will take the stage with philanthropists, businessmen and former winners of the prize to unveil the 15 2023 finalists.
The summit is being held in New York during the city’s climate week as well as the 78th session of the UN General Assembly to shed light on the important issues that the initiative highlights.
Prince William’s beloved Earthshot Prize, which he founded in 2020, is now a quarter of the way through its 10-year mission to find ways to repair and protect the environment.
It is named for the environmental equivalent of former US president John F Kennedy’s “Moonshot”: the mission to put a man on the moon.
“The challenge may feel huge, but as John F Kennedy taught us, we rise to the challenge not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And vital,” the Prince said on Monday.
Every year, Earthshot awards five £1 million prizes to the most innovative projects across themes of clean air, oceans, waste-reduction, climate change and restoring nature.
So far, 10 winning companies from around the world have secured the funding to implement and scale up their most creative ideas to save the planet.
An Earthshot Prize spokesman said on Monday that in just three years, the initiative’s finalists have collectively reduced, avoided or sequestered 3,000 tons of CO2, protected and restored 7,000 hectares of land – equivalent to 20 Central Parks – and removed, upcycled or avoided 40,000 tons of waste – the equivalent weight of 195 Statues of Liberty.
The Prince’s first engagement during his two-day visit to New York was to the Harbour to shed light on the Billion Oyster Project, a non-profit organisation which aims to restore one billion oysters in the Hudson River by 2035.
As part of the visit, he took a boat to and from Governors Island to meet volunteers and restaurateurs involved in the project, and he even waded into the river to join the team in putting oysters back into the Hudson.
The organisation’s mission is to restore New York’s oyster reefs, which provide habitat for many marine species, and have the ability to filter water, as well as help to shield the city shorelines from storm damage.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said on Monday morning: “Wherever the Prince visits, he’s always keen to see, hear and learn from other projects that are happening and taking place in and around the cities that he visits.
“So straight from the plane this afternoon he is off to the pioneering Billion Oyster Project on Governors Island to see some of the incredible work that the team there are doing.”
He also met the UN Secretary General on Monday evening to discuss climate change and the environment ahead of the Earthshot summit. Kensington Palace said the talks were “warm and constructive”.
“The Prince is very much looking forward to seeing the Secretary General and they are expected to speak about climate change and the environment as well as the innovative solutions that the Earthshot prize is cultivating around the world,” a Kensington Palace spokesman said.
They added: “This is the visit that the Prince was due to make this time last year but sadly couldn’t due to the passing of his grandmother.
“As we’ve remarked previously, the Prince was incredibly appreciative for the love and support shown by the American people during that time…and he is very much looking forward to being back in NY this week.”
The Prince will also visit a Manhattan firehouse on Tuesday to highlight their work as first responders.
He served as an emergency responder himself in the East Anglian Air Ambulance between 2015 and 2017 and is known to be very passionate about supporting mental health within the first responder community.