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The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and UNESCO host in the Principality the 3rd Foundations Dialogue as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) from 14th to 16th June 2023



Press release

The 3rd Foundations Dialogue opened on the morning of Wednesday 14 June at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mrs Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO and Their Royal Highnesses Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco and Princess Hala bint Khaled bin Sultan Al-Saud, as well as Mr Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

After Copenhagen and Rabat, the Principality is hosting the 3rd edition of the Foundations Dialogue, created in February 2020 by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to provide an annual forum for leaders of international philanthropic organisations to discuss impact solutions to promote the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences.

Organised jointly by UNESCO and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the event was a reminder of the importance of the philanthropic community in achieving the ambitions of the UN Ocean Decade. Philanthropic foundations have a major role to play, as they have been at the forefront of exploring emerging areas of research and promoting collaborations between diverse partners with the potential to generate and disseminate the transformational scientific knowledge and capacity needed to meet the challenges of the Ocean Decade.

After the welcome address by Mr Olivier Wenden, who praised the partnership with UNESCO that has enabled the Principality to host this important event, Mrs Audrey Azoulay began by reminding the audience that "we need to learn more about the sea. And this is the whole point of the Ocean Decade launched by the United Nations in 2021, which UNESCO is very proud to be leading, because without the sea, human beings can no longer live. (...) Indeed, this decade should enable us to set in motion a collective dynamic, a dynamic to reach nearly 4,000 institutions around the world that are currently working, and for which philanthropic institutions play a crucial role. (...) The ocean is now an ally of humanity, a climate regulator. It is essential for our survival. The ocean can survive without us, but we won't survive without the ocean. And if we want the ocean to remain what it is for us today, we have to act, and we have to act on the basis of science. (...) With this Ocean Decade, we have the opportunity to act and to develop ocean sciences as they should be developed.
In his speech, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco emphasised the key role played by foundations, pointing out that their hybrid nature at the crossroads of various political, scientific, private and NGO players provides them with a wide scope for action. "The environment is both one of the major issues of this century, and one of the subjects on which political institutions find it hardest to act, for reasons of resources and scale. So shouldn't our power, which I mentioned earlier, encourage us to invest more in this area, where there is a need for agile players, on both a local and global scale, with new resources, both financial and human? And aren't the maritime issues that have brought us together today the place where this need is most keenly felt?" asked the Sovereign, hoping that these three days of exchanges will help explore synergies and mobilisation to advance the cause of the ocean and, more broadly, that of the environment and the planet.
HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, said: "We come together here, to act for the Decade, and we are fully in line with the mission.  We have always considered that taking action, is the most effective way to serve the causes we defend.
We are taking action for Africa, its youth, and more broadly, that of the South, whose resilience must be strengthened in the face of the threats of climate change that affect the entire African population. We specifically reiterated this in the Bouknadel Declaration, which we presented at the Lisbon Ocean Conference in 2022. We will do so again, at the Barcelona Conference in 2024. We must act resolutely and quickly to protect our Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines from rising sea levels and pollution.  I say this for all of Africa, my continent. I am confident that you will hear and consider this call to action in our forthcoming proceedings, which I hope will be fruitful.”
HRH Princess Hala bint Khaled bin Sultan Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, President of the Living Oceans Foundation, recalled that "we have made great progress over this period, but we have always known that to accomplish this great and noble mission, we could not work alone" before recalling the work of Her Foundation "Co-design is a powerful approach to marine conservation. It allows us to forge alliances and design sustainable solutions that benefit both the environment and the communities that depend on it. This approach has always been the cornerstone of our work, which is guided by our motto "Science without borders". Since the Foundation's inception, we have embraced this principle of co-design, recognising that our work can only be effective if it is aligned with the needs and aspirations of the communities we serve. We have strived to build bridges, foster collaboration and work hand-in-hand with coastal communities around the world, in both large countries and small island nations, on coral reef conservation."
Following the three round tables dedicated to the presentation of the attending Foundations, Mr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, closed the morning with a speech wishing to "go back to 2016/2017, that's when we started working together. There was no trust. I don't think the foundations were working as intensively together. Collaboration between the foundations was necessary.  Today, there is trust. It was useful to offer foundations a common platform for using not only money, but also brains. This is a very important development, and I believe it will illuminate the path forward. (...) For the first time in history, we know what needs to be done. We need to engage the science and use the science (including the new science) to move towards ethical, equitable, climate-smart and ecosystem-based ocean planning for a sustainable ocean economy. This unites us all. This unites all the communities."

The days of 15 and 16 June are built around working sessions, aimed at addressing the contribution of philanthropy to the Decade of the Ocean and in support of action.

To learn more about the Ocean Decade:

©Philippe Fitte/FPA2