Exclusive interview with Prince Albert II on the rise of sustainable yachting

As a staunch and passionate advocate for the oceans, Prince Albert, together with various institutions in Monaco, is on a mission to upturn the superyacht industry and make it as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.

One step towards achieving that is the new Sustainability hub at the Monaco Yacht Show which, as Prince Albert explained to Monaco Life, is a great platform for change.

Since 1991, the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) has been at the forefront of the superyacht industry. And a lot has changed in those 30 years, but perhaps in no aspect more important than sustainability.

Now, a Sustainability hub has sprung up at the centre of the show. It’s easy to identify with its recycled plywood walls and uniquely green logo. There are also plenty of familiar signs like “Reduce CO2 impact”, “Time to shift”, “Fuel cell hydrogen power” and “Sustainable sails”.

With 14 exhibitors, it is certainly not the largest section of the MYS, but it does show where the industry is headed, as Prince Albert explained during an exclusive interview with Monaco Life.

“To have this actual hub with the different presentations and different companies that are in these tents, I think it is a tremendous step forward and wonderful proof that the yachting industry is concerned, not only about their environmental footprint and their impact on the environment, but that they are working hard at finding new solutions.”

Monaco Yacht Show 2022, photo by Cassandra Tanti for Monaco Life

The Monaco Yacht Show actually initiated its own pro-environmental approach back in 2005.

“We have been working with the Monaco Yacht Show for three years to introduce this idea of sustainability in yachting,” explained the Prince. “It started off with different programmes, most importantly with carbon offsetting, and then by making this event carbon neutral, which it has been now for 15 years or more.”

There are also Monaco-led initiatives to encourage more sustainable practices in the superyacht industry, and to reward those who are most innovative.

“To try to bring the yachting industry to have better practices, that started off with the Wood Forever Project, which was to encourage the use of wood from sustainable forests, certified forests,” added Prince Albert. “We have a prize for that every year; we give an award for not only the best yacht design, but the most sustainable yacht project.

“It’s not only the sustainable use of different materials but, more importantly, the propulsion, and that was very evident last year when we did the hydrogen forum at the Yacht Club, parallel to the Monaco Yacht Show.”

The yachting industry has certainly made strides over the past five to 10 years to lessen its ecological footprint through new, innovative technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, and its partly been driven by a stronger demand from buyers and those chartering yachts.

“There are many yacht owners, particularly many new yacht owners and many new generation yacht owners, that are concerned about that and they want to make that push toward not only clean energy – and electric is a part of it – but especially hydrogen, and I think that is a very encouraging sign.”

Monaco Life Editor in Chief Cassandra Tanti with HSH Prince Albert, photo credit: Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace

As one of the biggest superyacht shows in the world, the MYS provides an important platform for innovators, says Prince Albert, showcasing that the technology is out there – right now – so that change can be embraced by the maritime industry as a whole.

“Hopefully that will spill over in the future to other areas of maritime, in commercial vessels, of course, but also possibly military vessels. So, this is very important and this is a great showcase for the yachting industry as you know, because if we are able to prove that that is a valid way forward then I think that everybody will embrace it.”

A big appeal of yachting is the ability to seek out idyllic, isolated locations and to enjoy the diverse marine life. So, I asked Prince Albert how much of a responsibility do yacht owners and charterers have to embrace more sustainable practices to preserve these destinations, and is there even enough awareness among them of the challenges faced by the oceans?

“It’s so frustrating, because I witness that first hand in different areas, in that you do get encouraging news on the one hand that there are people out there that are genuinely concerned, but then you talk to another group of people and the awareness is simply not there, or it is in very patchy forms. So, it’s a constant battle and a constant struggle to bring these ideas forward and give them the right platform to find their voice.

“This is a great platform for the yachting industry; this is one of the biggest yacht shows, for superyachts at least, in the world, and so what better platform to express that. But we have to reach out to a wider audience, in other areas also not just in yachting, but to have yachting be an example and show to others that it is possible to imagine a different way forward, and a more sustainable way forward. That’s very important. But we do need more people out there to be convinced and to spread the word more efficiently.”

 

 

Photo above of HSH Prince Albert and Cassandra Tanti, Editor in Chief of Monaco Life, Monaco Life, photo credit: Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace

 

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This article was first published on 1st October 2022.