Prince of Wales warns ‘no time to waste’ to address global climate and health crises

22 February 2021

The Prince of Wales has told leading scientists that “there is really no time to waste” to address environmental and health crises and called for collaboration between science and industry to rapidly develop both nature and technology-based solutions. He said the world “desperately needs” the “ingenuity and innovative capacity” of scientists. 

His Royal Highness gave the warning in a pre-recorded speech to open the Commonwealth Science Conference. The five-day event explores how science can help build resilience against global challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pandemics.

The Prince of Wales said that “nature-based solutions are not alternatives to scaling up technologies” and “must not be forced to compete with each other”. He told delegates there was a need for “innovation, science, research and technology in every industry if we are to address climate change, transition our economy and achieve sustainability”. Also, that “today’s currency is the currency of ideas” and they could be turned into “an economic reality”. 

His Royal Highness is known for his life-long commitment to the environment and has recently launched his own Sustainable Markets Initiative that brings the science and technology sectors together.

The conference, which is being held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, takes place ahead of this year’s G7 leaders’ summit, UN conferences on biodiversity and climate change and the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. His Royal Highness called 2021 an “absolutely critical year for the environment” and that these “meetings will require strong scientific evidence on which to base [world leaders’] decisions” and urged scientists to “bring your expertise together so that it can deliver meaningful impact”.

His Royal Highness also acknowledged the critical role science has played in dealing with Covid-19. He said it “could not have served as a starker clarion call to the scientific community” to work for the “benefit of all humanity” and told scientists the “world desperately needs your ingenuity and innovative capacity”. Also, that the pandemic had “demonstrated that human health, economic health and planetary health are all fundamentally interconnected”.

The Prince of Wales is a Royal Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s academy of science, which is co-hosting the conference with the African Academy of Sciences.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said:

 “The devastating impact of Covid-19 is a stark reminder of our vulnerability to global crises. But, it has also shown us how central science is to our chances of surviving and thriving; and how international collaboration is vital for driving scientific innovation that will help us respond to global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss or averting future pandemics.

“The Commonwealth covers some of the largest, most populated countries to the smallest island nations from every continent and ocean. Bringing together the best scientists from the Commonwealth to share their knowledge and perspectives on some of the most pressing environmental and health concerns will help us build resilience to the challenges facing our own countries and communities, and those faced by people across the globe.”

Highlights from the conference presentations by world-renowned scientists can be viewed on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel.