Michael LiebreichMonseigneur, we're recording this during Monaco's Ocean Week, it must be an incredibly busy time?
H.S.H. Prince Albert IIIt is a very busy week. The beauty of this Ocean Week is, we're not only able to pool like-minded people in ocean conservation, but different scientists, different NGOs, different international organizations, but also the corporate world, different businesses that are interested in investing in solutions to help our oceans. And so, it's really a coming together of different stakeholders and different people interested in learning more about the state of our global ocean, but willing to play a part. But philanthropy can only go so far, and so just a couple of days ago we launched the Re-Ocean Fund, which is going to be a capital equity fund that will have an initial feed of €100 million, to get the financial world and different entrepreneurs and different investors interested in different projects that concern our ocean.
MLI was very struck by the continuity of your family's commitment to the oceans. It started with your great, great grandfather - who was really quite a significant ocean scientist in his own right, was he not?
PAHe was an incredible adventurer. He personally funded and equipped four different yachts that he owned over his lifetime, and supported different expeditions, not only here in the Mediterranean, but in the Atlantic, and the Arctic Ocean - some 28 different expeditions. So, he was a great visionary, and has left us an incredible legacy, not only with the Institute in Paris [Paris' House of the Oceans], but with the Oceanographic Museum [of Monaco], here, just a few blocks away. And I remember going as a young teenager with my parents to see Jacques Cousteau, who was the Director of the museum for well over 30 years, and he launched a few of his expeditions right from here.
MLAnd then you later went on your own quite significant expeditions?
PAAbsolutely. In the summer of 2005 there was an opportunity to go with a small scientific team from the Monaco Science Centre, from the museum, to do the same route around Spitsbergen taken by Albert I. In one bay, the Lilliehook Glacier Bay, Prince Albert I took one of the most significant pictures of the glacier at the end of the bay, and to see the way that glacier has receded some five to six kilometres was actually pretty daunting and pretty scary. I was able to go back this past June with the Oceanographic Museum, and it has receded even more substantially. That reinforced my conviction that with this understanding of what is happening in these extraordinarily fragile, and important parts of the world, we need to do more to try to protect them better and to minimize our impact.
MLYou’ve got the Prince Albert II Foundation as a platform to address these and other issues. What's your theory of affecting those changes through the Foundation?
PAWe try to address every issue: to combat the effects of climate change, to encourage clean energies, to address water issues and access to water, and then biodiversity, be it on land or at sea, the protection of different species and encouraging protected areas. We're thinking primarily of marine protected areas, but also on land. Thanks to all our partnerships, and everyone who has helped the Foundation and a wonderful team at the Foundation – we’ve been able to be involved in some 750 projects, on all continents, and to raise well over €100 million for these different projects. I'm extremely proud and happy how the Foundation has developed over the years, and how it is recognized as a serious entity that is only interested in advancing these solutions for our planet and being good partners, because we all have to work together. No one can act independently in their own boxes, or in their own silos.
MLA lot of charities, a lot of NGOs, find it hard to get funds down to those smaller, but really on-the-ground projects. But that appears to be what you're doing, through partners, presumably?
PAAbsolutely, and none of our projects would be possible without the help of partners. Even if there are projects that we initiate ourselves, we will we always find the right partners, because we don't have the knowledge on the ground in some of these areas, in some of these places around the world. Even the seemingly unimportant projects that don't require a lot of funds, some of them have been the most successful. And they were absolutely of vital importance to the communities that lived in the area of these projects. And so, it was actually very, not only heartwarming, but it was also part of the social responsibility that is absolutely paramount in in these projects.
MLDo have any favourites among the causes you've supported through the foundation?
PAI think what we were able to do with other entities like the World Wildlife Fund to try to save the population of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and the adjacent Atlantic area. We were able to force the organizations in charge to lower their quotas of fishing, and the strengthening of those quotas was enough to save the species and to have the population rebound. It took a few years, but those stricter quotas were absolutely paramount in helping the Mediterranean bluefin tuna survive.
MLI want to finish just looking at Monaco itself, because you have a 2050 decarbonisation target. How is that going? And do you have concerns about your subjects complying with net-zero targets in Monaco, but not being fully on board in their whole lives with those targets?
PAI'm happy to say that we are on target; we have passed 38% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. There's still a long way, but I'm confident that we will reach those targets. I think by showing [Monegasques] what we're doing, and by raising a significant amount of awareness, people do realize that they don't need to travel as much. Leisure travel needs to be thought of differently. But there are different compensation mechanisms now that work very well, and that people have taken into consideration and have adhered to. And so, I hope that that trend will continue and it must continue. And so, as I said, it's not necessarily a drastic change in lifestyle, it's just, by small increments, doing what we all can to lessen our impact and lessen our carbon footprint.