“Happy World Wildlife Day to all of you!”, pointed out the Sovereign Prince opening the 2020 edition of ‘World Aquariums against Plastic Pollution” campaign (#BeatPlasticPollution”) on the 3rd March 2020 at the Oceanographic Museum Auditorium. The meeting, co-organized with Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, was held in the presence of a large public made of distinguished guests, institutional and diplomatic representatives.
It was also the opportunity to join the new “Global Coalition for Biodiversity” pledge (#Biodiversity2020) in order to complete the earlier agreement. Not by chance, the eco-commitment against marine litter started here in 2017 under the auspices of the historical Oceanographic Museum, the European Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other relevant partners. That was the pioneering initial reference to a new shared undertaking aimed at connecting international Aquariums to increase eco-awareness among their visitors through targeted actions and projects with the endorsement of international conventions and Conferences of the Parties (COP15). The project went beyond all expectations.
“Since its launch the initiative has proved to be of particular value raising the awareness of millions of our contemporaries concerning the danger of littering in general, with special regard to plastic pollution that is able of threatening the seas balance”, added H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco – “I was able to witness it not long ago when I was invited to dive with the explorer Victor Vescovo in his submarine in the deepest part of the Mediterranean, the Calypso Deep (Kalamata, Greece)” – “Over 5 thousand metres at the bottom of that trench we saw one small shrimp and twenty or more plastic bags and bottles, so this must be food for thought for all of us…”, He added. Sea Pollution, climate change and overfishing are real dangers to fight for with effective forms of mobilization, being aware that they are largely caused by human action.
A solution is still possible through changing our way of thinking up to renegotiate international agreements if necessary in order to make the greatest possible number of people self-conscious. More profound changes, in fact, can only come from each one of us, acting as responsible consumers and redesigning our habits being supported by our fields of competence. In that regard, Aquariums are playing a valuable role to attract a diverse audience of different ages, nationalities and social status, through a set of initiatives, from exhibitions to social network use.
“Aquariums like the most popular Musée Océanographique has two main criteria to follow: to keep a healthy environment and to preserve diversity of life recreating a rich and safe ecosystem”, underlined Robert Calcagno, director of the Oceanographic Museum – “that is exactly what happened at larger scale on the biggest Aquarium we have, Planet Earth”, he said.
Zoos, botanical gardens, historical museums have been increasingly involved in that direction since the very beginning. A total number of over 60 million visitors every year are currently concerned all over the world.
“Despite discouraging stream of reports concerning the state of biodiversity and increasing number of endangered species, we don’t have to lose sight”, highlighted Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries – “The Principality of Monaco has been a key partner throughout the process that contributed to reach 212 Aquariums from 41 different Countries, involved today” – “this successful outcome shows a wide-spread concern about the health of our seas, proving the importance of awareness campaign as powerful tools” – “as all other stakeholders, I do believe in the power of people to encourage the change…”.
Therefore, the European Union will be announcing soon a new ambitious strategy for biodiversity tackling major issues.
Consequently, the rising Coalition is aimed at keeping biological diversity in the spotlight through actions where needed as a result of joining forces to unveil the natural world. Bringing people together, taking decisive actions at next COP15 (October 2020, in China), sharing key messages pro Nature through Social Media will be crucial driving forces.
“Nature feeds us and it brings up our spirits, so that we need to stand up for the cause”, commented the European Commissioner. “We have been long assumed that Nature would provide us everything, no matter what, but human actions forced Nature to the limits”, stressed Inger Andersen, Executive Director at UNEP – “as for oceans, global heating is causing sea water to warm at alarming rate equivalent to five atomic bombs exploding every second”, she added. “To move in a new direction, we require a change of perspective coming back to a time when we understood how the Natural World sustains humanity as a vast ‘interconnected web’: half of the world GDP is based on Nature” – “here, in Monaco, we make the decision to end destruction in the living world, we do it for People, for the Planet, for Wild Life, for Prosperity, for Peace”, she concluded.
All parties noted the importance to keep all efforts going on synergistically. Let’s start then to promote #BeatPlasticPollution and #Biodiversity2020 through practical steps, we cannot afford to lose more time!