The Duke of Sussex has paid loving public tribute to his father, in a speech in which he credits him for fighting to save the environment even when it fell on “deaf ears”. The duke, speaking at the Australian Geographic Awards in Sydney, shared a series of prescient words from a “well-known conservationist” dating back to 1970, before revealing to the audience that they had been spoken by the Prince of Wales. Saying the world must now act “urgently” to “stop the clock on the destruction of our planet”, he signalled the cross-generational campaign now at the centre of the Royal family’s work. “My father and others have been speaking about the environment for decades – not basing it on fallacy or new-age hypothesis, but rooted in science and facts, and the sobering awareness of our environmental vulnerability,” the duke said.”And while those speeches would sometimes fall on deaf ears, he and others were unrelenting in their commitment to preserve the most valuable resource we have – our planet.”But let that be a cautionary tale. We are all here tonight because we care deeply about using the world’s resources wisely and safeguarding them for future generations.”The duke, who is expecting his first child in the spring, added: “I am certain we are more aware of the need for this balance now, than ever before. “The idea that these are the next generation’s problems is not a view we can accept.” Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Australian Geographic Society Awards in Sydney. Chrissie Goldrick, editor in chief of Australian Geographic, is seen on the right in the light dressCredit:Joel Carrett/AFP She described him as “a passionately committed conservationist” and said that while in Australia he had made “the most of your popularity, your influence and your undoubted charisma to draw attention to a range of issues close to your own heart”.She added: “When people like Your Royal Highnesses, held in such affection by so many, when you speak, people listen… You can change hearts and minds.”The duke and duchess, who arrived late at the ceremony because of the delayed flight from Tonga, were there to present two awards. Prince Harry, center left, and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, center right, arrive at the Australian Geographic Society Awards, in SydneyCredit:Joel Carrett/AAP After its launch, she said, “the Queen quickly lent her enthusiasm and her support to this initiative. It is an ambitious initiative. It seeks to offer greater protection to the world’s native forests, and seeks to regenerate those that have degraded or pulled down. So far 42 countries of the 53 that comprise the modern Commonwealth have added over 90 projects to the canopy in a very short time. It is an idea that has really taken off.”She also described how Harry was a member of the South Pole club. “That is usually quite an exclusive club, except when you are at an Australian Geographic Society event. There are lots of people who have been to the South Pole!” Presenting awards to the scientists, academics and innovators already working to protect the environment, he concluded: “I am confident that positive and permanent change is on the horizon.”Young people now innately understand far better than previous generations that we simply cannot continue to destroy our natural world, without facing major, irreversible consequences.”And they understand that many of the solutions we need to tackle these issues can be found by working together and empowering communities to come up with long-lasting, sustainable solutions.”It is going to take every single one of us to stop the clock on the destruction of our planet, and time is not on our side.”The standard we walk past, is the standard we accept. It’s time to take personal responsibility and realise what a privilege it is for us to live alongside nature.”Editor in Chief of Australian Geographic, Chrissie Goldrick, said: “‘This [the environment] runs in the family. “Not only we have got Prince Harry out here, speaking on behalf of the environment in a powerful way, he’s not pulling any punches on his messages, but we also have Prince Charles, a long term environmentalist from back in the 1970s and now we have the Queen who is behind the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project in a major way. “You have got the three generations of that family stepping up for the environment. “They really do have a power to help people focus. I can’t believe we are still arguing about climate change. “So when you get people like that ho are not politicians or states people or scientists out there giving that message then people step up and take notice.”As they left the ballroom , where the awards were taking place, to meet the winners, the Duchess was clutching a toy wombat that she had been given for her unborn baby.She was also given a ‘numbat’, a small long-trailed marsupial native to Western Australia. There are fewer numbats in the world than Great Pandas.Queen honoured for ‘outstanding contribution’ to conservationThe Queen was honoured last night with a special award for conservation for her initiative to highlight the plight of the world’s forests.The award, for her “outstanding contribution” to global conservation was accepted on her behalf by the Duke of Sussex at an awards ceremony in Sydney.The award, by the Australian Geographic Society, recognises the impact of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, an initiative launched in 2015.Chrissie Goldrick, editor in chief of Australian Geographic, said that the Queen had offered “vital leadership” to a project that “aims to tackle deforestation on a global scale”. The duke presented the award for Young Adventurer of the Year to Jade Hameister. Now 17, she skied to the North Pole aged 14, became the youngest woman to cross Greenland a year later, and this year completed a 37-day journey to the South Pole. She is the youngest person to complete the polar hat-trick.The duchess presented the award for Young Conservationist of the Year to Sophia Skarparis. Aged 15, she started a petition this year to ban plastic bags in New South Wales, which led to a meeting with the state premier and her petition being debated in the NSW Parliament this week.Sign up for Your Royal Appointment – for everything you need to know about the Royal Family, direct to your inbox each week.