UNCW Alum Joe Oliver, Coral Vita Teammates Win Prestigious Earthshot Prize

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

UNCW alum Joe Oliver ’06 and his Coral Vita teammates have been recognized for their work to rejuvenate reefs destroyed by ocean warming. Coral Vita, which focuses on coral farming, is among the five winners of the Earthshot Prize, a prestigious global environment prize run by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 

Coral Vita restores reefs by growing and transplanting resilient corals. Oliver, a former UNCW MarineQuest staff member who also earned his bachelor’s degree in marine biology, serves as the director of restoration operations at its coral farm in the Grand Bahamas.

"Receiving the Earthshot Prize is a major achievement for Coral Vita because it brings our work to the forefront on a global level and casts light on the efforts of many other reef restoration organizations,” said Oliver. “Coral reef loss and ecosystem degradation are global problems and require partners from all walks of life to make a lasting change that yields a healthier planet for current and future generations.”

The Earthshot Prize is designed to incentivize change and help repair the planet over the next decade. Winners were announced during an inaugural awards ceremony in London on Oct. 17 and were selected for their innovative solutions to environmental challenges in the categories of “Protect and Restore Nature,” “Clean Our Air,” Revive Our Oceans,” “Build a Waste-Free World,” and “Fix Our Climate.”

Coral Vita is the first recipient of the "Revive Our Oceans" award. Each of the winners received about $1.3 million, an Earthshot Prize medal and a global network of professional and technical support. The award was created by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

"The Earthshot Prize will help us incredibly by galvanizing the community, strengthening our local partnerships, opening the doors for collaboration with new partners to solve these problems on a larger scale, and expanding our reach within the Bahamas and across the world," Oliver added.

Other winners were:

  • Costa Rica: “Protect and Restore Nature,” for a policy that pays citizens to help plant trees and preserve the rain forest.
  • Takachar: “Clean Our Air,” for technology that helps convert harmful pollutants produced by the agriculture sector into sellable bio-fuels and fertilizer.
  • Milan, Italy: “Build a Waste-Free World,” for an initiative that makes use of huge amounts of food, which otherwise have been discarded by supermarkets and companies’ canteens, to feed those in need.
  • Enapter Project: “Fix Our Climate, for its AEM Electrolyser technology, which turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas.

-- Venita Jenkins


Joe Oliver checking coral off the coast of Grand Bahamas

Coral Vita grows coral on land to replant in oceans, giving new life to dying ecosystems. Joe Oliver '06 serves as the director of restoration operations at its coral farm in the Grand Bahamas. Photo credit: Harry Lee/Coral Vita.