Launch of the 2023 edition of "Students on Ice”
After a break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, in partnership with the Direction de l’Éducation Nationale de la Jeunesse et des Sports, has reactivated its participation to the Students on Ice programme this year. A conference was held to this effect on Tuesday 21st March, as part of Monaco Ocean Week 2023, in the auditorium of the Lycée Technique et Hôtelier de Monaco, in the presence of Mr Patrice Cellario, Minister of Interior and H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Minister Plenipotentiary, Special Adviser to HSH the Sovereign Prince on environmental issues, as well as other Monegasque personalities. This presentation, aimed primarily at the Première classes in high school, concerned by the SOI programme, was attended by almost 200 students.
An extraordinary experience, Students on Ice offers students, accompanied by educators and scientists, an opportunity to better understand our planet and to discover the Arctic, one of the most preserved natural environments. Since 2008, thanks to the collaboration between Monaco and Students on Ice, some twenty students from the Principality have been able to explore the polar regions, meet the indigenous populations and discover first-hand the impact of global warming in these areas which are so rich in biodiversity and yet so vulnerable.
Ms Isabelle Bonnal, Commissaire Général chargé de la Direction de l’Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, opened the conference by defining Students on Ice as "an invitation to travel, to commit and to raise awareness". She reminded the students that "the world of tomorrow is being built today, by you, with you and for you", underlining the importance of "daring and undertaking"; a "boldness of sharing, which leads far, liberates the heart and opens the doors to the future".
Mr Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director of Students on Ice (SOI), recalled the missions of the SOI Foundation and the educational objectives of the expeditions: "to inspire and empower leadership for a sustainable future by connecting youth to nature, and to the knowledge, people, and resources to make a difference.”
Two former laureates were invited to intervene: Ms. Célia Limandat, 22 years old, laureate of the SOI competition in 2017, graduate in History, Politics and Economics at University College London and co-founder of MUSU, a brand of sunglasses launched in 2021 with an eco-responsible approach, and Mr. Justin Sargenti, 24 years old, laureate of the SOI competition in 2015, today a state-qualified architect, doctoral student at the AMUP laboratory and drawing technician for FGWRS, who has just returned from a two-month mission in Antarctica. Both of them spoke about this unique experience which has guided their professional careers and strengthened their personal commitment to the environment.
Mr Justin Sargenti then presented in more detail his mission at the Franco-Italian research station Concordia for the Monegasque grey water recycling company FGWRS (Firmus Grey Water Recycling System), as part of a project conducted in collaboration with the French Polar Institute Paul-Émile Victor and the European Space Agency (ESA) and supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Finally, Dr. Céline Le Bohec, a CNRS researcher in polar biology at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM), presented the work of the Monegasque scientists in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, particularly through the long-term monitoring of seabird populations, which enables us to understand the evolution of polar ecosystems, which are sentinels of the state of planetary health. She also spoke about the training of researchers and the specificities of polar research, sharing with enthusiasm her personal experience.
The conference ended with the announcement of the competition " Un lycéen en Arctique " on Wednesday 29 March (aimed at volunteer Première students in the Principality), for which Mrs Monique Brnjac, in charge of educational projects and partnerships at the Direction de l’Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, reminded participants of the methods of participation: an essay or a photography, responding to a common subject focused this year on the theme of "planetary health". One student will be chosen from each of the two categories and the pair will join the Students on Ice group for a trip to the Arctic in July 2023, departing from Ottawa, along the Labrador coast to the Torngat Mountains National Park in the Inuit region of Nunatsiavut.
The aim of the 2023 conference was therefore to inspire the young students present through the testimonies of passionate and committed personalities, opening up different perspectives and proposing concrete career models.
Photo credit: ©Olivier HUITEL/FPA2