Foundation marks 10 years of progress

Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission
Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has celebrated its 10th anniversary with a black tie awards gala at the Sporting d’Été.

It was ten year’s ago on June 30 that HSH Prince Albert II launched FPA2 (Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco) dedicated to protecting the environment and the promotion of sustainable development. This followed Prince Albert’s voyage in April 2006 to the North Pole, where he witnessed firsthand the impact of global warming.

At a press conference on the Riva Deck at the Yacht Club de Monaco, where Bertrand Piccard, who last week made history by crossing the Atlantic flying Solar Impulse 2 was also in attendance, Prince Albert said about his Arctic expedition: “We could see the changes ten years ago, now it’s even more unfortunate. The great imbalances in biodiversity, emblematic species that were already becoming disturbed, unpleasant things on the ice, elements of pollution… This experience prompted me to act and set up an organisation that would help in this process, that would not only be a personal commitment on my part but we could bring people together to help find better solutions for the state of our planet. I’m so happy that it is experiencing such a development and that we’ve been able to move on these issues with others in a coordinated way and an efficient way. There’s still so much we have to do but we can’t do it alone.”

Since its inception, FPA2 has helped with over 380 projects and has received thousands of different demands for funds, for partnerships, and a specific focus on different issues. “Some we turn away because they don’t fit into our strategies or urgencies,” Prince Albert explained, “but I think this shows we are on the right path and going in the right direction.”

The conference panel, chaired by foundation CEO and Vice-President, HE Bernard Fautrier, included two of the three FPA2 award recipients, who were honoured at the black tie event later in the evening at the Sporting d’Étoile. The awards are given for work on climate change, the preservation of biodiversity, and access to water.

Speaking to Monaco Life, South African-based Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission, winner of this year’s access to water prize, said, “I knew about the Foundation from afar but this award was a complete surprise. The Foundation is a very interesting space, and one of the powerful things about the Monaco Foundation, it is one of the few in this domain around the world that isn’t recognised as having a corporatised agenda, so it’s a genuinely neutral voice pushing the climate change and the green agenda in the world that is really well respected. This recognition helps our organisation to be able get our own messages out around the importance of research and innovation to make a fundamental change to the lives of people and the planet.”

Addressing his figures of how 663 million people do not have access to safe water and one-ninth of the world goes hungry every day, Dhesigen added, “The way societies are structured, there’s such a distance between those who don’t have and those who do have that there’s a convenience, you can turn the other way.

“Poor folk have the smallest voice everywhere and don’t have to be listened to. Interestingly, the green agenda turns that on its head. The green agenda says that your climate change future depends on how you organise these interventions around the poorest folk of the world. Because if you’re not providing an energy solution to poor folk, than they have to destroy the forests to survive, they have to increase carbon emissions by burning off wood for power. The interventions of the poor actually organise itself around a much broader equation for all of this and maybe this will turn the tide.”

Another FPA2 award, presented every three years, is for scientific research grant supporting biodiversity studies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West. In 1913, Prince Albert I was the first European head of state to visit the US and set up a hunting camp outside Yellowstone with the legendary William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.