Helga Piaget, Founder Passion Sea
ML: You studied History of Art. What led you to eventually end up in Monaco?
HP: I was born in Bavaria, in the South of Germany. Art, and everything attached to it, fascinated me since my childhood. Art draws people together across cultures. Supported by my parents, my mother having a PhD in History of Art, I studied Economy and History of Art at university.
Foreign languages, art and sports brought me around the globe. After living in Brazil and Switzerland, I wished to settle next to the water. Monaco is not only a wonderful
Principality, it is a magical place overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I’m grateful to be able to call this place home and to get the gift of citizenship.
ML: You’ve lived in Monaco for 25 years. What were your first impressions of the Principality and its community?
HP: During my early childhood, I came often to the South of France and Monaco. I remember it felt like stepping into a dream world. I enjoyed speaking my second language French. The beauty and elegance of the unique international events are fascinating as well as the wonderful mild climate. Piaget, the watch and jewelry brand, hosted various events and I got to know many of Monaco’s citizens and residents. The spirit of Monaco’s community is very diverse, global and gave me a warm welcome.
ML: Give us an insider’s view of Monaco.
HP: Monte Carlo is an extraordinary place, cosmopolitan in the truest sense of the word. There are more than 120 nationalities living in an area of only two square kilometres. For me, Monaco is a mixture of city life and beautiful countryside. The social calendar is filled with art, cultural and sportive highlights. On the other hand, you can easily escape into the nearby countryside.
ML: Favourite thing to do?
HP: I love going to the foyer of the Hotel Metropole for tea. A stylish, elegant, quiet and cosy place with first-class service.
ML: How do you support Monaco?
HP: In Monaco, whether you’re talking about culture, sports or investment, you’re guaranteed to get the best of the best. I could go on forever about the spectacular professionalism and imagination of those who plan all the receptions and charity events to fit every taste and interest. I want Monaco to be known not just for wealth but philanthropy and as a country that is concerned about the future of our planet. I highly admire all the great efforts of HSH Prince Albert II towards a green environment and the protection of the seas and oceans. I will do my best to help Monaco become an environmental leader.
ML: What do you do in your down time?
HP: I love sports – skiing, swimming, running, you name it – art and, of course, the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. However I’m a passionate golfer, with a handicap of 3.8. Some people refer me as the Golf Lady because I play in many international competitions for the Monte-Carlo Golf Club, which has a spectacular course, nestled on top of the mountain with stunning views down to the cliffs of the Riviera.
Currently, my interest is being fed by a new project. I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve ever been involved in. I have created Passion Sea, a non-profit association in Monaco, to promote respect and preservation of the waters of our planet.
ML: Tell us about Passion Sea.
HP: Two years ago, on my birthday, I was having lunch with a friend. As a gift, she asked me to stand at a specific spot, look at the sea and make a wish. I never received my wish! I am not superstitious but I felt the sea was trying to teach me an important lesson. I proceeded to educate myself about the abuses of man to the sea. It broke my heart to see the sea treated so disrespectfully. People are completely unaware of how dangerous their actions are and the ramifications that will affect generations until the end of time. The rivers, lakes, seas and oceans are vital for our survival and are our responsibility. Preventing any further damage must be our top priority.
Two years ago, the project “Passion Sea” rose out of the waves of the beautiful and powerful Mediterranean Sea. Passion Sea is a non-profit Monaco-based association, promoting internationally the respect and preservation of our waters through education and creativity. We need to change our habits, after all, “We are the Sea”. The young generation is in charge of the world of tomorrow.
Passion Sea is making an impact all around the globe though art, education, films and books. We opened an art contest for children up to 12 years of age around the world, giving them the opportunity to express their feelings towards the sea through drawings or poetry, and we are creating a book of art that delivers the messages from this contest. In conjunction, we’ll include the insight of scientists, artists, actors, singers, photographers and public figures to open a public dialogue and we are collaborating with schools and developing educational programs.
ML: I read about an event with Passion Sea Canada. Are you involved?
HP: Canada is home to the world’s longest coastline, three Oceans and a sea of arctic ice.
Canada is very aware about their mission to preserve these waters, an immense gift for their country. Passion Sea is creating an educational program for elementary schools under environmental studies. We believe that this program will enhance students’ academic skills and help them become responsible, creative, productive and confident contributing members of the global community.
We’re also organising events and workshops in different countries throughout the year. You can follow us on our official website for more information and on Facebook. We are honoured to have sportsmen and women, scientists, marine biologists, doctors, actors, artists, politicians and thousands of children among our supporters.
We welcome people wanting to help us through sponsorships to change our behaviour towards nature, especially the waters of our planet and turn the world into a better place.
ML: What is something we might not know about the seas?
HP: I was amazed to learn that 60% of the oxygen we breathe comes from the seas. I don’t think people realise how vital the seas are for our survival. Although much is heard about the forests, water remains the most precious element on our planet. Without water there is no life. Our bodies are 70% water- it is essential for our survival on the planet. We have to make dramatic changes. All countries need to come together. We must educate, change our habits, clean up and act NOW. The Paris Agreement is a great step towards a better world.
ML: What is the blue economy?
HP: Blue economy and blue growth offers a vision of the oceans as a new source of economic growth, job creation and investment. I applaud this initiative. We must reclaim and reuse natural elements and stop wasting them. Creating dry toilets to save water and reintegrating plants to regenerate water are two methods that can be tremendously beneficial for our economy and ecology. It’s the wave of the future.
ML: What is an advantage and disadvantage of being a woman in business?
HP: Nowadays women are taking their places as leaders in the society. I don’t see any disadvantage of being a woman. There is a need for masculine and feminine energy in the business world. It is nice to see the feminine side in business, politics and leadership. Women have the ability to bring more sensitivity and charm into the business world.
ML: Hardest part of ageing as a woman?
HP: Age is a state of mind. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and organic food helps you stay in shape. Mentally you gain in experience and become more mature. If you stay active you certainly won’t feel old and thanks to today’s hair colours and natural creams, even our appearance stays young and fresh.
ML: Something you’ve always wanted to do?
HP: I want to make a difference in the world. We are polluting, destroying nature and poisoning the planet we depend on. With Passion Sea I’m making my dream come true.
ML: Best thing you’ve experienced in life?
HP: The happiness of my two children.
Article first published November 3, 2016.