« Significant progress has been made over the last few months (...) thanks to the High Seas Treaty by the United Nations on the 4th March, we will at least have the legal tools (...) helping us to protect international waters more efficiently (...) and allowing for the fair distribution of organic resource products », these encouraging words were pronounced by the Sovereign Prince of Monaco in His keynote speech to kick off the 14th edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative, held at the Oceanographic Museum on the 19th and the 20th March 2023 under the umbrella of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2F). This international panel gathering decision makers, the civil society, the private sector, the science world and media has become a prior hub of exchange of ideas in perspective of peer review. This edition, that also kicked off the Monaco Ocean Week, was particularly engaging, counting on 180 international participants.
« Significant progress has been made over the last few months », H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The ocean in all its shades of blue was on the spotlight. Notably, sustainable ocean resources exploitation, management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the role of marine ecosystems in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), scaling restoration solutions to make the Mediterranean Basin more resilient were among the pillars of the various round tables. The general watchword was clear: acting through concrete and ambitious initiatives leading to effective results.
« Vision without action is hallucination », Rodrigo Chave Pobles, President of Costa Rica.
As Mentioned by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco the need to act is even more urgent and the collaboration between states is a cornerstone to achieve the protection of at least 30% of the global ocean surface by 2030 to comply with the Agenda 2030. This will be possible only through precise scenarios that demonstrate to implement a common vision, including a science-oriented approach, as reaffirmed by Rodrigo Chave Pobles, President of Costa Rica. The ocean cause enables also a more effective diplomatic cooperation as recalled by H.E. Laurent Stefanini, Ambassador of Monaco to France, representing Hervé Berville, French Secretary of State for the Sea. The One Ocean Summit held in Brest (France) in February 2023, in fact, gave the chance to accelerate the birth of the Coalition for the High Ambition for the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction - BBNJ Treaty.
« A healthy planet must have a healthy ocean », Huang Runqiu, China's Minister of Ecology and Environment.
The priority is to build up a maritime community united in common goals. This is the core mission of President Xi Jimping of the People's Republic of China, as stated by Huang Runqiu, China's Minister of Ecology and Environment in a video message sent for the occasion. Chinese policy makers were presented as particularly sensitive to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and pollution through natural heritage conservation. With special focus to the ocean, finding the right balance between human commercial interests and the survival of marine biodiversity is considered the main objective of the blue economy of the largest Asian market.
« We have the opportunity to choose to make the difference that is needed in the world », Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Investing in CO2 reduction, renewable sources as well as improving the quality of surface water by empowering the fight against marine litter and speeding the industrial restructuring are still pivotal in turning the economy completely blue. Financing targeted projects and improving the capacity building is a key to put in practice the regulatory system, like the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, within the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the newly-agreed UN High Seas Treaty. Thus, the need to benefit for more investments to develop SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the Oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development). Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, alerted the audience to this need considering that this Objective is one of the least funded, albeit dealing with ecosystems that cover 95% of the planet earth.
« The private sector draws a dynamic link between various interested parties», Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation.
Besides the indispensable participation of scientists and local communities, private businesses may not be excluded from the debate with particular attention to marine ecosystem restoration and sustainable fishing. Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation, pointed out the consistent contribution of the Monaco Blue Initiative in federating various stakeholders towards this target.
« Scaling up and accelerating existing solutions are the priorities », Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Basing on funded actions to foster biodiversity conservation is the necessary path to comply with the Global Biodiversity Framework besides improving a holistic approach capable of encouraging a better scientific data inter-exchange. Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, praised the efforts of the Monaco Blue Initiative to combine the Ocean protection with the Blue Economy. ***
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing