Recognizing commitment to ocean protection
On Thursday, November 7, 2019, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and oceanographer Lisa Ann Levin received the prestigious Prince Albert I Grand Medals from the hands of Prince Albert II, who also presented the Thesis Prize to Violaine Pellichero. This annual event was created in 1948, recognizing up to this date 77 distinguished personalities investing themselves in worthy causes. In the last few years the laureates prized have mainly dedicated to the preservation of our ocean.
The ceremony, that reunited 400 people at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, was opened by its Director Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute Foundation Albert I Prince of Monaco, who stressed the importance of the need for science to connect with leaders and the public.
The coveted bronze medal bears the profile of Prince Albert I, explorer, scientist and pioneer of modern oceanography and founder of the Oceanographic Institute. Prince Albert II continues to honor the legacy of his great-great-grandfather, someone ahead of his time who a century ago called attention to environmental conservation and ocean sustainability.
In his presentation Prince Albert II emphasized the plight for the protection of the ocean by saying: “The global pressure exerted on our planet affects everyone and hits the weakest the hardest. In this context international solidarity and multilateral dialogue are more vital than ever. The ocean and the climate invite us to do that. They bind species, peoples individuals from all backgrounds and from all walks of life, wherever they may be, by a bond as unshakeable as it is vital, for better and for worse.”
Honoring Ban Ki-moon
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who held office from 2007 to 2016 for two successive mandates) received the Prince Albert I Grand Medal in the Mediation Section, for his involvement in the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). (Photo: Prince Albert II honoring Ban Ki-moon © M Dagnino – Musée océanographique)
His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressure involving food, energy and water.
The Mediation Section highlights the commitment of men and women in the public life working within civil society to give a voice to the ocean. Since 2014 the Grand Medal Albert I, before reserved just for scientists, is awarded to public personalities. In creating this section, the Oceanographic Institute chose to honor those who put themselves to the service of the oceans, not only scientifically, but that through their active participation to create awareness and call for action. These new pilgrims moved by their passion and communicative energy, provoke real interest to love and protect our oceans and our ecosystem.
In his discourse, Ban Ki-moon said: “My special recognition goes to Prince Albert II for his visionary patronage of this award, as well as for his longtime advocacy efforts in support of oceans, the environment, and sustainable development issues. I also take this opportunity to commend the work of the Oceanographic Institute, Foundation Albert I, Prince of Monaco. The critical efforts you undertake to continue the guiding legacy of Albert I, are essential as we collectively strive to expand the understanding, affection, and protection of our oceans.”
Up to date 5 personalities committed to the service of the Ocean have received medals in the Mediation section, notably Leonardo DiCaprio a fervent environment activist who was awarded in 2015.
Recognizing oceanographer Lisa Ann Levin
Lisa Ann Levin, distinguished professor of biological oceanography and marine ecology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was recognized with the Prince Albert I Grand Medal, for her studies on the impact of climate change on marine species in deep waters, highlighting the impact of human activity on these ecosystems. (Photo insert: Prince Albert II presented the medal to Lisa Ann Levin © M Dagnino – Musée océanographique)
The Science Section compensates highly qualified researchers in the oceanographic field for the ensemble of his carrier, specific works or an exceptional discovery. Up to this date 71 researchers have been honored, notably the famous French oceanographic explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1981.
In her discourse before accepting the medal Lisa Ann Levin said: “In my lifetime, the deep ocean – what I like to call the deep half of the planet – has gone from being a remote, largely ignored sector to recognition as a major force on this planet. It is both a repository of remarkable biodiversity and a realm that is critical to climate mitigation. Once considered homogeneous and desert-like, we are continuously discovering strange new ecosystems, habitats and species, some with potential importance for humans.”
Thesis Prize to Violaine Pellichero
With the aim to provide support to new generations of researchers whose work are linked to the ocean, the Oceanographic Institute awarded the Thesis Prize. The laureates receive a bourse of Euro 3,000 to aid in their investigations.
The recognition this year went to young French oceanographer Violaine Pellichero, specialized in the understanding of climate change through the study of the oceans. She made a brief presentation of her study in the Southern ocean, under the sea ice, to study the quality of the water. The presentation was done in an innovative and interesting way as she had only 180 seconds for her creative exposition on stage, incredible to see many years of research condensed into just a few minutes. (Photo insert: Prince Albert II with Violaine Pellichero © M Dagnino – Musée océanographique)
“Oceans are the beating heart of our planet, as well as the beating heart of our future.” Ban Ki-moon