Editorial

Monaco’s historical commitment to the ocean

Marine ecosystem awareness and conservation have been an integral part of the Principality of Monaco’s history since the end of the 19th century. Passionate explorer and dedicated scientist, Prince Albert I, was one of the founders of modern oceanography.

Commitment to the oceans has continued throughout the 20th century; a perfect example being when France, Monaco and Italy signed the RAMOGE Agreement in 1976 to protect Mediterranean coastal waters. The Principality of Monaco was one of the very first States to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.

When the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation was created in June 2006, Monaco immediately adopted solid commitments such as the 2008 appeal to stop Mediterranean bluefin tuna consumption (at the time in danger of becoming extinct) and the 2009 Monaco declaration on ocean acidification, in cooperation with 150 scientists from 26 countries. The Foundation also created the Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI) in 2010: a thinktank where members focus on current and future global ocean management and conservation issues. In 2013 we created an Environmental Fund to manage Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean. The BeMed project was launched in 2015 to combat plastic pollution in the Mediterranean; during the Paris COP21 we played a key role in the edition of the Because the Ocean climate regulation declaration by highlighting the importance of the ocean in climate regulation – the declaration has now been signed by 33 countries; and in 2016, the Principality of Monaco initiated the IPCC oceans and cryosphere report which will be completed in autumn 2019.

Ocean conservation takes centre stage at the Monaco Ocean Week

The need for a week of meetings, debates and mobilisation for the ocean was blatantly obvious: leading marine sector stakeholders need to share their key marine environment conversation findings and take action to preserve the oceans.

During the second edition of the Monaco Ocean Week, from 8 to 14 April 2018, local and international experts, the scientific community, voluntary sector, and public authorities will once again unite in the Principality of Monaco. Monaco will officially announce during the event that it will be co-chairing the ICRI (International Coral Reef Initiative) with Australia, as of July 2018.

Last year, many ocean initiatives were presented throughout the week and key commitments were sealed, such as the Pelagos Sanctuary Headquarters Agreement; funding for selected micro-initiative projects to fight against plastic pollution – organised by BeMed; and the inclusion of Southern countries in supporting the Association of Sustainable Financing of MPAs in the Mediterranean. The Yersin launch, a floating research laboratory, for the Monaco Explorations 2017-2020 campaign was announced during the event. Feedback from the first exploration will be presented in April during the Monaco Ocean Week.

Raising awareness of an urgent ocean situation

In November 2017, the Fiji Islands – presiding COP23 country and under great threat from climate change – reminded stakeholders of the urgent climatic ocean stakes during the Ocean Pathway Partnership launch. The Partnership was launched under Fiji’s initiative. During the 2018 Monaco Ocean Week, and in continuation of this initiative, maritime activities in SIDS (Small Island Developing States), in response to climate change, will be discussed to share post-COP23 lessons and prospects for future action.

Rising sea levels, deoxygenised marine and coastal waters, ocean acidification, etc., are some of the many current threats to ecosystems. These dangers, however, also encourage the benefits of raised awareness. More than ever, the main aim of the Monaco Ocean Week in April will be to share experience, debate and call to action.