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Monaco Ocean Week: a multidisciplinary summit united for the Blue World

The Principality of Monaco has been expressing its fondness for ocean biodiversity and marine ecosystem preservation since Prince Albert I’s commitment in scientific exploration and research. On the basis of a legacy that is being lasting for more than a century, the Monaco Ocean Week (MOW), at its fifth edition, represents the highest expression of how to bring to Monaco the brightest minds for a concrete global change. This year edition, under the umbrella of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2), the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco, the Scientific Centre of Monaco, The Yacht Club of Monaco and The Princely Government, was held from the 21st until the 26th March 2022 in various locations to talk about a long series of core topics within the UN Ocean Decade and beyond. Public events, technical round tables, art exhibitions, book launches, world premiere screenings added a lively and vibrant mood to the Principality for a one-week long.

Taking action has always been the key target of MOW. In recent years, in fact, important results have been achieved within this weekly multidisciplinary summit. The Monaco Manifesto for the Ocean signed by the Sovereign Prince together with French and Italian Ministers for the Environment on the 3rd April 2017 as well as the Sanctuary Pelagos Headquarters Agreement and the launching of the Natural Marine World Heritage in the Arctic Ocean publication (2017) are just some of the most relevant outcomes.

This edition has laid the foundation for important projects to face the new challenges as stated exclusively for HelloMonaco by Olivier Wenden (O.W.), Vice-President and CEO, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Monaco Ocean Week
Opening remarks by Olivier Wenden, Vice-President & CEO FPA2 within the panel: ‘Innovation and solutions to achieve the aims of the Ocean Decade’ (Yacht Club de Monaco, 22nd March 2022).© JC Vinaj/FPA2

HelloMonaco: The MOW reconfirms as a stage of primary importance to unveil ocean management new challenges, what would you put first among the topics covered?

O.W.: First of all, I would say ‘conservation’, unfortunately. We need to protect and preserve what can be saved, even with a little window of action. Secondly, it is essential to properly channel the money available to fulfil the right investments, from fishery to any kind of pollution, addressing also to the fishing emissions and tourism which can have a dramatic impact on local biodiversity even on most vulnerable areas like Antarctica. Thirdly, core mission of both MOW and Monaco Blue Initiative is to help bridging the gap among science, decision makers, the private sector, civil society as well as companies, investors and bankers. Many actions have to be developed under the sign of good will, despite any difficulty of understandings. So, we need to strengthen and develop more opportunities to exchange on similar topics, ideally through economic tools as well. The Ocean Innovators platforms, held on Wednesday the 23rd wanted therefore to implement B2B networking addressed to open-running corporate realities generating jobs and processes, with a very good impact on marine environment, pursuing innovative issues like carbon sequestration, bioplastic, etcetera. 

HelloMonaco: What would you expect from the follow-up of this year MOW? What specific actions can be taken? Which new actors can be involved?

O.W.: The Foundation is really turned to the world. We are committed then to federate our stakeholders to follow the road map traced within the MOW in view of the incoming international meetings. But the Ocean Innovators Platforms I referred to are meant to act as concrete tools to gather activists, philanthropists or other actors in order to give solutions, to make them known and to implement global awareness.

HelloMonaco: Do energy and geopolitical crisis we are facing, have an impact on the objectives pursued at the Monaco Ocean Week? If yes, at what extent? What are the possible scenarios for the near future?

O.W.: It depends if on short or long terms but yes, we have more difficulties to tackle. I think it is also a phenomenal opportunity to shift, maybe quicker, to renewable or alternative energies implementing the green deal process in Europe. It could be also the chance for US Administration to implement their recovery plan for the economy having in mind the green and blue opportunities. Covid and war status could then play as driving forces to invest in the right direction towards sustainability.

The 2022 edition of MOW offered a rich program to keep up with the latest trends. From saving coral reefs through a combined scientific-diplomatic action to the pivotal role played by Marine Protected Areas and small islands in ocean preservation and climate adaptation. From Sustainable Finance & Economy to the newest technologies and clean-energy yachting, Plastic-Free Campaigns and Awareness Raising Initiatives. MOW has been also the unique real stage to host the Pelagos Initiative Coordination Committee, debating on the develop of the most popular Cetacean Sanctuary, to move on the BeMed Initiative against plastic marine litter and to lay down priorities in view of the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon (27th June – 1st July 2022).

Monaco Ocean Week
Angelo, co-founder of R4 fully sustainable fabrics brand talking about Sustainable Fashion (Yacht Club de Monaco, 24th March 2022).© JC Vinaj/FPA2

Focus: The Ocean Decade calls for solution-based innovations, ESG investments and New Fashion.

The Monaco Ocean Week gave voice to a variety of Ocean nuances. HelloMonaco selected a few ahead of the curve. A specific meeting was held at the Yacht Club of Monaco on the 22nd March 2022 to consider ‘Innovations and Solutions to achieve the aims of the Ocean Decade’, promoted by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. All panellists agreed that technology and innovation are an essential part of a solution-oriented approach based on science. Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Director of the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project pointed out that one of the priorities to achieve in the near future is the mapping of the seabed up to 100%, to foster efficient local scientific activities pro biodiversity. Natalie Fox, skilled surfer and coordinator of Ocean Decade Activity ‘Citizens of Surf’ as part of Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) Programme, underlined that citizens’ involvement is crucial as well to carry forward the ocean-friendly initiative. It is pivotal the deep respect for the ocean and communicating effectively thus making science and ocean explorations outcomes understandable to the large audience. Professor Richard Bellerby, Chief Scientist for Climate and Oceans at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research & Director at SKLEC-NIVA Centre for Marine and Coastal Climate Research, stated that the key and existing tools are already there to conceive  interactive platforms to encourage discussions between managers, industries and local communities and scientists to be translated across the different disciplinary boundaries.

On financial side, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors can really make the difference and the mass fashion world, one of the most polluting industrial sectors, is increasingly adhering to this new model or so. On the 24th March 2022, a dedicated panel ‘Sustainable ESG Investment and New Fashion for the Planet’, held at the Yacht Club of Monaco by The Animal Fund (TAF), non-profit marine conservation association, reviewed the progress made in the field. Can fashion save the Planet? It can be under certain conditions taking into account every single aspect of the production chain of clothing, avoiding greenwashing marketing statements. Sustainability in fashion is not about being cool but a necessity, considering its massive impact on the environment, using up to 1.5 trillion liters of water per year, as pointed out by Angelo, co-founder with his brother Tino, of R4, emerging fully sustainable fabrics brand made in South of France. Louis Legrand, CEO and co-founder of 2PM Monaco Personalized Portfolio Management, enhanced that responsible and transparent asset investments are therefore progressively requested both at private and public level.

Monaco Ocean Week
Berit Legrand, founder of TAF association, introducing the panel ‘Sustainable ESG Investment and New Fashion for the Planet’ (Yacht Club de Monaco, 24th March 2022).© JC Vinaj/FPA2

In conclusion, high-tech devices, bringing new commercial ‘eco-interests’ for investors as well as pushing ocean literacy and education outreach activities were identified as the major pillars for the UN Decade we are living in.

To know more about the Monaco Ocean Week please visit the official website.

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