For their last conference of the season at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels on May 5, the Grandes Conférences Catholiques offered the podium to Prince Albert, to set out his and his Foundation’s commitment to the environment, in the context of an address entitled “Air, Sea and Land: This century’s crucial challenges”.
HSH Prince Albert spoke alongside Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Professor at UCL, member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and former Vice-President of the GIEC, and Olivier de Schutter, also a UCL professor, member of the United Nations Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and former special reporter to the United Nations on the right to food.
Professor van Ypersele’s presentation concerned the climate while Professor de Schutter focused on sustainable agriculture and food. For his part, Prince Albert spoke of the sea, an issue that plays a key role in his actions. Reiterating the universal nature of the system constituted by the air, the sea and the land, His Serene Highness pointed out the profound effect human activities have had on that system, leading to severe imbalances.
After reminding the conference of the principal threats to the world’s seas – over-exploitation of marine resources, pollution and severe deregulation of marine balance – the Prince welcomed the dynamism of the international institutions that had included ocean preservation in their action plans, but also stressed the need to continue mobilisation efforts and even accelerate them “because time is pressing and the target fixed by the international community in Aichi to reach 10 percent of all MPAs by 2020 will in all likelihood not be achieved as currently we have only achieved about seven percent.”
The Sovereign Prince concluded with the words: “Through our seas, it is our own lives which we must save.”