He wants to see the idea, demonstrated by one of the finalists in his first Earthshot Prize awards in Sydney Harbour in Australia, extend to London and other parts of the UK. The artificial panels, replacing concrete shorelines, mimic natural harbours and riverbanks and encourage biodiversity, leading to an explosion in plant life, invertebrates, and fish. William, 39, spoke about the idea with Australian actress Cate Blanchett and environmentalist Danny Kennedy in a chat for their Climate of Change podcast for Audible.
“Why couldn’t you put living seawalls all up and down the Sydney Harbour, you know? The Thames here, put it up the Thames right,” he said. “It’s really quite easy to do, you know. It’s not a sore on the eye.”
The future King, speaking about his £50 million prize for the best ideas to solve climate change and other environmental problems over the next decade, said he remained a “stubborn optimist” about our ability to tackle the planet’s biggest ecological challenges.
He said: “I really do think it can be done in much quicker time than we anticipate because the solutions are out there. There are real solutions to these problems.”
He said his appreciation of the natural world was “piqued” by his father and grandfather’s “passion” for it, and described boyhood memories of climbing trees, digging ditches and being out in the “wild and the wet”.
The inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony was staged last October at Alexandra Palace in London and among those who walked the event’s “green carpet” were Harry Potter star Emma Watson, wearing a wedding dress made of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson.
William said the event produced five tonnes of carbon, 98 per cent less than predicted for a ceremony of its kind.
The first awards ceremony saw £1 million in prize money presented to each of the five category winners – protect and restore nature; clean our air; revive our oceans; build a waste-free world; and fix our climate – and organisers have said if their ideas are realised by 2030 it would improve life for all.
William said he wanted more solutions to repair the planet led by women and indigenous communities for the 2022 awards, which will be staged somewhere in the United States. The host city has not been decided yet.
Asked about his interest in the natural world, he said Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries had revealed there was a “wider world out there to explore” when he was younger.
He added: “And I think my grandfather, my father, both kind of having a deep passion and interest in this area for many years, has sort of piqued my interest and my curiosity.
“So growing up, I was surrounded by kind of this adventure and this idea of exploring and being out in the garden. I used to spend hours climbing trees, digging ditches and all sorts of things – hiding in dens and all sorts round the garden.
“So I used to love being out in the sort of wild and the wet.”