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Prince William's Earthshot Prize: 2 Indian Projects- ‘Phool’ & ‘Kheyti’ Among Finalists

Among the nominees from India for this year's Prince William's Earthshot Prize, also known as the Eco Oscars, are a greenhouse-in-a-box solution for small farmers and a floral waste project that turns flowers thrown into the River Ganga into sustainable leather called Fleather.

Shivam Dwivedi
Innovative solutions have the potential to address the most pressing environmental issues
Innovative solutions have the potential to address the most pressing environmental issues

At the second annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony next month, GBP 1 million will be given to one of 15 international projects, including Phool and Kheyti. The Takachar project, led by Vidyut Mohan, won the prize in the "Clean our Air" category last year for its low-cost technological innovation to transform crop residues into marketable bio-products. Takachar is included on the 2022 shortlist, which features ground-breaking solutions to the biggest environmental challenges.

Prince William said on Thursday that the "innovators, leaders, and visionaries that make up our 2022 Earthshot finalists prove there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our planet." They are focusing their time, effort, and talent on innovative solutions that have the potential to not only address the most pressing environmental issues facing our planet, but also build communities that are healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable for future generations.

Soon after Makar Sankranti in 2015, founder and CEO Ankit Agarwal witnessed local temples throwing used flowers into the water, their pesticide-coated petals poisoning the Ganga river. This is when Phool was born in Uttar Pradesh.

"To clean up India's holiest river was our initial goal. During the process, we found a substance growing on our factory floor that may eventually completely replace animal leather. Unlikely circumstances can sometimes yield ground-breaking ideas, and we are grateful that the Earthshot Prize recognised ours " Agarwal said.

Phool initially gathered the floral waste and made incense sticks from it. As they worked, a thick, mat-like substance started to develop over the unused fibres that were spread out across the factory floor. They realized that this mat could be transformed into Fleather, a new material that is an environmentally friendly replacement for animal and plastic leather. In order to collect waste flowers, the company currently employs over 163 Dalit women as "flowercyclers," and eventually they hope to hire 5,000 people.

"That ambition is justified by contracts to supply major fashion brands. Ankit Agarwal witnessed worshipers poisoning their sacred river seven years ago. Phool, a finalist in the "Build a Waste-Free World" competition, is noted as having "turned the tide today by cleaning the river and helping those who worship it too," in a statement from the Earthshot Prize "category.

Kaushik Kappagantulu, co-founder and CEO of Kheyti, founded the Telangana-based company to assist some of India's nearly 100 million small-hold farmers, who are among the world's poorest and most vulnerable to climate change.

In addition to providing protection from erratic weather and destructive pests, Kheyti's Greenhouse-in-a-Box also provides farmers with training and support to make sure their greenhouse is as productive as possible.

"Small-holding farmers live among the hardest lives on earth, yet the world depends on them. Farmers in India are currently being empowered by our greenhouse-in-a-box. According to Kappagantulu, who has been shortlisted in the "Protect and Restore Nature" competition, the actions we have already taken at Kheyti are now building to change farmers' lives at scale "category.

The 15 global projects' five winners, each of whom will receive GBP 1 million to further their initiatives, will be revealed in Boston the following month. There are also finalists from the UK for the first time, including the London start-up Notpla Hard Material, which creates packaging from plants and seaweed as an alternative to single-use plastic.

The City of Amsterdam Circular Economy group, which wants to see everything recycled in the Dutch capital by 2050, is one of the other finalists. Kenyan company Mikuru Clean Stoves offers safer cooking methods and cleaner burning stoves to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution.

At the awards gala in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 2, William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, will mingle with the nominees and winners. The "Moonshot" goal of 1960s America, which saw then-President John F. Kennedy promise to put a man on the moon within ten years, is referenced in the name of the Earthshot Prize. Five projects that are trying to address the environmental issues facing the planet will receive GBP 1 million each annually for the following ten years as part of the prize.

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