The 2023 Monaco Ocean Week (#MOW2023) played also as a privileged stage to present new relevant technologies and smart solutions addressed to preserve oceans' habitats worldwide including their environmental, social and economic ecosystems. The Ocean Innovators Platform, held on the 22nd and the 23rd March 2023 at the Yacht Club de Monaco turned out o be a precious think tank made of international entrepreneurs and start-ups ready to leave their mark on the blue transition. Best practices, problem solving approaches, win-win stories and innovation were on the spotlight for the two-day panel. Coastal resilience, blue tourism, sustainable supply of sea food, shipping sustainability, coastal infrastructure, efficient ocean data technologies have been debated through various roundtables to give an overview on the latest trends. MONACŒCOART® was pleased to attend this exclusive event and collect some meaningful insights.
« The challenges currently faced by the oceans are intensifying and we need to intensify our response », H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco pointed out in His keynote speech: « The challenges currently faced by the oceans are intensifying and we need to intensify our response. We do not have the choice (to avoid ocean matters) as many of the contemporaries aspire to eat better, take better care of themselves and live better: in order to do so we are relying on marine resources ». The Sovereign Prince encouraged stakeholders to create as soon as possible new models to reach a new dimension through all possible clever ways whether it is artificial intelligence, urban planning, transportation or tourism, just to mention major topics. In order to fulfil this target cooperation among companies, scientists, financial players and all those who want to make a difference is the key. Allocating effective resources to foster ecological solutions is also a strategic financial target.
« To achieve SDG 14 and meet the goals of the Global Biodiversity Framework b by the end of the decade, philanthropy will be not enough, we need the private sector to scale up and accelerate the necessary change towards the sustainable blue economy », Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation highlighted the urgency of a change in the blue economy through high tech and innovation in line with principles of sustainable development. A combination not always easy to trick. Marine renewable energy devices and marine biotechnologies show that they are making rapid progress in that direction by offering solutions that improve living and well-being human conditions with a special focus on the environment. As for food provided by oceans, marine transport ad coastal areas development, some steps have been made but much progress remains to been made.
« Each of us is related to the ocean in some way. The next generation will be so important – so it is crucial to involve it. Technological or Storytelling skills are pivotal – they should match each other », Nico Rosberg Eco-investor and Co-Founder of the GreenTech Festival.
Nico Rosberg, former F1 World Champion driver, Eco-investor and Co-Funder of the GreenTech Festival attended the event as special guest, recalling the importance of personal commitment in the blue cause. Research together with engaging communication and education need to be ranked in the podium of priorities. Besides keeping highly motivated, what pushed him to conceive a specific event devoted to advanced eco-innovation, the GreenTech Festival, successfully launched in 2019.
« It is crucial for Monaco and for the whole world to prioritise investing to a sustainable blue economy », Jean Castellini, Monaco Minister of Finance.
Jean Castellini, Monaco Minister of Finance recalled the role of a specific Fund that has been supporting innovation for about twenty years. Since early 2000's, Monaco capital path has increasingly been focused on sustainable projects through a targeted diversification including private equity and investment funds committed to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.
Blue economy boosts corporate eco-responsibility and blue eco-tourism that represents about 10% of the global GDP.
Mathieu Dufresne, Managing Director France for COTY, American-French beauty company underlined: « Being the leading sun care company in Europe, we have a responsibility: to pave the way for how we protect both people's skin health and the oceans». For this multinational, whose legacy is strongly linked to the Principality, research & sustainability are the prior drivers reinforced by a constant environmentally friendly corporate campaign.
Sam Teicher, Co-Founder and Chief Reed Officer of Coral Vita: « We have lost half the world's reefs since the 1970's and we are going to loose over 90% by 2050 so it is a critical point both for the economy and tourism, particularly in coastal and island nations ». In this innovative coral farm, they base on breakthrough methods to grow corals in moths instead of decades besides building up an economic ecosystem to fund reefs restoration. Tourism is a cornerstone in boosting local economies.
Sara Andreotti, Chief Operation Officer at Shark Safe Barrier reaffirmed: « Nobody owns the ocean but everybody has the duty to act for it. Our business puts us through various stakeholders including local decision makers, allowing us to tackle the big social problem at the base of the relationship between human beings and sharks ». Grounded on advanced technology this company, based in South Africa, has developed an effective shark-deterrent barrier to guarantee a safe swimming for beachgoers in prior touristic coastline resorts without affecting the ecosystem of these marine predators.
Making room for sustainable innovation is an essential piece of the blue economy puzzle.
Thomas Le Quinquis, Marketing Director at Lancaster, sustainable skin care company, stated : « Being in Monaco commits us to continue innovation pursuing sustainability. Being sustainable should not be limited to a single sector, it is not just a trend but the backbone of your business strategy based on scientific and certificed data ».
The regulatory framework has to increasingly meet the needs of a totally sustainable shipping industry.
Sebastian Heitmann, Co-Funder of Extantia Capital, stressed: « Shipping is a very competitive field we you have constantly to face negative externalities. Governments should therefore improve their regulations to encourage the creation of green fleets through multilateral actions in order to allow all countries to test biofuel shipping in biofuel on various front: besides hydrogen also ammonia, methanol, etc. ».
Cost evaluation of sustainable facilities can encourage non-carbonised investments.
William Janssen, CEO at Desolenator, a novel high-tech using solar energy to turn complex water sources into quality water, stated: « Attracting investors towards sustainable projects can be a big problem. Investments though a start-up could take a decade and the regulatory and policy-making is moving are slowly moving towards marine protection. Thus, it would be useful to improve the cost evaluation of sustainable facilities to encourage non-carbonised investments by providing impact measurements, considering major issues like the coastal infrastructures, the carbon sequestration and the fight against marine pollution».
Ocean itself can be used to low the cost challenge most companies have to face in order to be more sustainable.
Maya Kashapov, Business Development at Captura, innovative start-up focused on ocean carbon capture and sequestration, enhanced: « Our approach to lowering those costs we started thinking that we have already a huge natural, existing, proven and free carbon removal device that almost covers 70% of our Planet: the ocean. So, we only need to activate the electrodyalisis for six hours a day to generate the acid and the base we need to power the rest of the system for 24 hours per day. We look forward strenghtening our network with the offshore renewable plant system to increase our action and reach net-zero within this century ».
The Monaco Ocean Innovators Platform, totally prone to innovation and cutting-edge technology for marine preservation, would like to support all participants throughout the year to encouraging interconnections within an emerging community of 'ocean tech' pioneers. ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing