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The Prince of Wales is presented with the 10th Global Environmental Citizen Award in New York

28th January 2007

The Prince of Wales was honoured with an environmental award in New York today and took the opportunity to call for ‘urgent steps’ to counteract climate change.

His Royal Highness, who was accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall, was presented with the 10th Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School's Centre for Health and the Global Environment by former US Vice President Al Gore and actress Meryl Streep.

In his speech, The Prince warned that the world was looking to the United States of America for leadership and that governments needed to help fight climate change.

He said: "Our successors will pay most dearly for our dilatoriness and inaction as it is, but we surely owe it to them to take urgent steps now - not just by 2020 ...Perhaps we should see this as a war we simply have to win."

"I can tell you that the rest of the world, where alarm is growing exponentially as the evidence mounts, is looking to this country to provide the leadership and commitment that could transform the situation and bring us that much needed element of hope."

"It is for governments to establish policy frameworks to encourage and enable companies to take the necessary steps to make major reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases."

The Prince was praised by environmentalists Al Gore and Meryl Streep as they presented the award. Previous winners have included actor Harrison Ford and conservationist Jane Goodall.

In a speech, Meryl Streep highlighted The Prince’s work with his organic food company Duchy Originals and The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment.

Talking about The Prince's concern for future generations, she said: “That understanding, that passion and that courage is why we at the Center for Health and the Global Environment are honoured to acknowledge such a dedicated ally in our mission to protect the global environment."

Meryl Streep also admitted that she once wanted to marry The Prince when she was a young girl. "Now, with my reading glasses on, I get to show my appreciation in a different way," she said at the start of her speech.

Last year's winner Al Gore said: "The Prince of Wales is a leader and a thought leader and has brought together people to think and then to act."

He said: "Your decision to speak out no matter whether the reactions are negative or positive - you have been able to make a tremendous difference."

The Prince was also presented with a bottle of Grade A maple syrup, one jar of honey and one of apple chutney - presents from the Centre's Director Eric Chivian.

"I wanted to give His Royal Highness something more personal, something I had grown myself," Mr Chivian told guests.

He added: "For decades The Prince of Wales has been a champion of the natural world... He has been a world leader in efforts to improve energy efficiency and in reducing the discharge of toxic substances on land, and into the air and the oceans."

Guests at the award ceremony were given organic goodie bags including skin care products, ground coffee, hydrating night cream, handmade soap with shea butter and Al Gore's book based on his film, An Inconvenient Truth.

The banquet included locally-sourced and environmentally friendly food including marine lobster, lamb wrapped in Lebanese crepe and poached Hudson Valley Pears.

Earlier in the day, Their Royal Highnesses visited Harlem to see the Harlem Children's Zone, a network of social service, education and community-building programmes.

The Prince had a go at shooting hoops with youngsters on a basketball court, getting the ball in on the second go.

Thirteen-year-old Chris Velazques put his arm around The Prince and said afterwards: "He just smiled. He patted me on the back too. I asked him how his trip was."

The independently-run centre works with youngsters in a 60-block area of central Harlem and has transformed school results, cut school absences and reduced illnesses such as asthma.

This is Their Royal Highnesses’s second visit to New York – the first was in November 2005.