His Serene Highness highlighted the challenges and opportunities for preserving the ocean in the annual Grantham Lecture at Imperial.
HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has advocated for ocean science and protection through several local and international schemes, including acting as International Patron for the UN ‘Year of the Dolphin, helping to set up Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean, and forming the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation to protect the environment and to encourage sustainable development.
To protect the ocean we need not just words and regulations but the goodwill and energies of all, pooling together all resources at our disposal. HRH Prince Albert of Monaco
He delivered the 2018 Grantham Annual Lecture, which also marks 10 years of the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial’s hub for climate and environment work.
HSH Prince Albert opened his talk by pointing out how rapidly global attention had brought interest and action around the health of the ocean, and how developing a sustainable ‘blue economy’ is the next logical step.
He also stressed there was still much to do, and several factors stand in the way of further progress. These include climate change causing issues such as ocean acidification and ice-cap melting, human negligence such as pollution and overfishing, and the reluctance of some states to act.
He said: “To protect the ocean we need not just words and regulations but the goodwill and energies of all, pooling together all resources at our disposal. The situation requires a global solution and collective action to change our ways.”
Highlighting plastic pollution in particular as an issue with a growing awareness, HSH Prince Albert called for urgent solutions, recognising the UK as a leader in this field. Before the talk, he met with ocean plastics experts from the Grantham Institute to hear about the research and solutions being proposed.
Prince Albert makes an eloquent plea for us to love and respect the oceans, and recognise their central role in our well-being and the health of the planet. Professor Sir Brian Hoskins Chair of the Grantham Institute
Despite the challenges, HSH Prince Albert also encouraged the audience to consider the opportunities that conserving the oceans will bring. In the same way as a ‘green economy’ has been built around sustainable development in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable transport and green buildings, a ‘blue economy’ can be constructed around the oceans.
He highlighted a range of initiatives in the direction, including making ocean trade more sustainable through the development of solar-powered cargo ships, harnessing renewable energy from the oceans such as tidal or wave power, and embracing the jobs and revenue from tourism and managed fishing that emerge from creating Marine Protected Areas.
He said: “We must make the blue economy a priority. Clearly this is an immense task, a long and difficult battle to be fought, but one we can win. I believe the UK, which has been at the forefront of many great battles, will once again inspire us and unite us all.”
Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute, said: "Prince Albert makes an eloquent plea for us to love and respect the oceans, and recognise their central role in our well-being and the health of the planet.
"Thanks to progressive international agreements informed by scientific evidence, and humanity’s sense to do the right thing, there is a new hope in the notion of the blue economy, the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs."
After the lecture, HSH Prince Albert met start-up companies formed by Imperial students and alumni with a focus on sustainability, including water filtration system CustoMem, and ocean plastic pollution mapping program The Plastic Tide. HSH was also presented with a bespoke 3D-printed surfboard, created from recycled waste plastic, by Surfff. The prince and his delegation also met Imperial students from Monaco at a reception.
All images by Fergus Burnett
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