The King and Sustainability

For more than five decades, The King has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future.

The King visits the Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia

Advocate for Sustainable Action

On 19th February 1970, at the age of 21, The King warned of the dangerous effects of plastic pollution on the environment. Read the speech here.

The King delivers a speech in Wales

In 2020, to mark 50 years since the speech was delivered, The King (as The Prince of Wales) reflected on why defending nature has been important to him for so many years.

In the context of global challenges that include climate change, deforestation, and ocean pollution, The King has promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend among other things soil, water, forests, a stable climate and fish stocks endure for future generations. 

The King (as The Prince of Wales) visits a sustainable salmon farm at Marine Harvest's Loch Leven Fish Farm

The King believes that everyone has a role to play in tackling even the most complex sustainability challenges facing our world. From Heads of State to young people, and from chief executives to local community projects, his unique ability to bring people together has proved a powerful way to find solutions and inspire people and organisations at all levels and all around the world.

The King with Amazon Indigenous leader Domingo Peas at a Biodiversity Reception at Buckingham Palace

In February 2023, His Majesty hosted a reception in support of global biodiversity, on behalf of the UK Government, with international ministers, civil society, the private sector and indigenous representatives.

The King plants a tree at Buckingham Palace

In November 2022, His Majesty hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the UK Government ahead of the COP27 Summit. The reception brought together over 200 international business leaders, decision makers and NGOs to mark the end of the UK’s presidency of COP26 and look ahead to the COP27 Summit in Egypt.  At COP26, in Glasgow in November 2021, His Majesty met numerous leaders working to accelerate solutions on climate and biodiversity loss.

The King (as The Prince of Wales) at COP26

Over the decades, The King, when he was The Prince of Wales, launched a number of sustainability initiatives aimed at delivering practical outcomes.

We simply cannot waste any more time – the only limit is our willingness to act, and the time to act is now.

The King, as The Prince of Wales, at Davos 2020

In his previous role as Prince of Wales, The King launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), along with its associated mandate the Terra Carta. The SMI’s global mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future through the private sector, in support of the globally agreed Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes aligning industry, investment and country roadmaps (Nationally Determined Contributions).

The King (as Prince of Wales) during an engagement with the SMI

Encouraging Young Environmentalists

In 2021, The King's Foundation partnered with What on Earth Books to produce It’s Up to Us, a story and education series based on the Terra Carta for young minds. Illustrated by 33 artists from across the globe and featuring a foreword from The then Prince of Wales, the story explains in lyrical text how Nature operates in a world without humans and shows the damaging impact people have had on the planet.

The King regularly engages with young people championing the need for sustainable action, including Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2020.

The King with Karen Kimani

More recently, in 2023, His Majesty met 10-year-old environmentalist, Karen Kimani, who had written a letter to Buckingham Palace to ask if The King would plant a tree with her. His Majesty honoured Karen's request during his State Visit to Kenya, where the two planted an Elgon Teak at Karura Forest.

Protecting Wildlife and Animals

In 2012, as President of WWF-UK, The King (as The Prince of Wales) welcomed school children, who were involved in the WWF-UK Green Ambassador scheme, to Highgrove House. The young guests took part in a series of workshops with an environmental theme and toured the Highgrove Gardens to see the sustainability features of the estate.

The King with WWF Green Ambassadors at Highgrove

During the event, it was announced that the endangered Ecuadorian stream tree frog, discovered in the rainforests of Ecuador, would be officially named 'Hyloscirtus princecharlesi' in honour of The (then) Prince's support to conservation and environmental campaigns.

His Majesty recognises the importance of protecting endangered species in addition to the surroundings in which they live. During an official visit to Rwanda in 2022, The King visited Umusambi Village: Kigali’s first and only wildlife sanctuary. Here, His Majesty met a number of Grey Crowned Cranes – an animal that was facing extinction five years ago, until the village committed itself to protecting and caring for the birds.

The King at Umusambi Village, Rwanda

More recently, Their Majesties also visited Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, during a State Visit to Kenya in 2023.

The King and Queen at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Sustainable Fashion

An advocate for sustainability in his own fashion efforts, The King often opts for ethically sourced natural fabrics, such as wool or linen, made by skilled workers in local textile mills and manufacturing sites. 

His Majesty has long encouraged the importance of “make do and mend”, with a preference for repairing clothes and patching up shoes rather than buying new. 

I’m one of those people who hate throwing anything away. Hence, I’d rather have them maintained, even patched if necessary, than to abandon them.

The King during an interview with British Vogue, 2020

The King visits YOOX-NET A PORTER

In December 2020, The King (when he was The Prince of Wales) sat down with Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, to talk about his lifelong commitment to sustainable fashion, and The Modern Artisan, a training programme co-founded by The King’s Foundation. Read the conversation here.

In 2019, The King joined Chairman and CEO of YOOX NET-A-PORTER, Federico Marchetti, to announce a unique collaboration bringing artisans and students in Italy and Britain together to design and manufacture a sustainable fashion collection, The Modern Artisan.

The Modern Artisan Project

Over the following year, six Italian students worked on the designs, harnessing A.I. tools and five years of data from Yoox Net-a-Porter Group. In Scotland, British artisans were trained in small-batch production at Dumfries House, the headquarters of The King’s Foundation. When the time came to manufacture the collection, they were able to create the majority of it by hand.

When in Rome for the G20 Summit in 2021, The King was shown a new digital ID for fashion brands, which provides details of how the item was made and where materials have come from, allowing customers to make ethical decisions about where they shop.

The King looks at a Digital ID in Rome

Saving Surplus Food

To mark His Majesty's 75th birthday, the Coronation Food Project was launched. 

The King launches the Coronation Food Project

Coordinated by The King Charles III Charitable Fund, the Coronation Food Project seeks to bridge the gap between food waste and food need across all four nations of the United Kingdom, helping people and helping the planet.

Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one.

The King for The Big Issue, 2023

The Food Project follows in the footsteps of previous Royal initiatives, including The Felix Project, kick-started by a donation from The King Charles III Charitable Fund, which supplied fridges and freezers to hundreds of charities across the UK, enabling them to rescue and store more fresh and frozen food. 

The King visits the Felix Project

The donation of these freezers doubled the amount of food that The Felix Project was able to provide for struggling families.

In 2021, The King's Foundation launched the pilot scheme 'Food for the Future' to help educate young people about food supply and production. This education programme formed part of the Foundation's wider food waste initiative known as 'Making Food Go Further'. 

The King with apprentices from The King's Foundation

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