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This year’s Planetary Health Awards winners are…

This year’s Planetary Health Awards winners are…

By Cassandra Tanti - November 1, 2021

A 17-year-old activist from Canada has become the youngest recipient of Monaco’s Planetary Health Awards. She was one of three to be recognised for her efforts to preserve the planet in a ceremony Friday night hosted by the Prince and his Foundation.

It was the 14h annual Planetary Health Awards ceremony at the Grimaldi Forum on 29th October, paying tribute to leading figures and organisations for their deep commitment to preserving our planet in the areas of water, biodiversity and climate change.

In his opening speech, Prince Albert II of Monaco acknowledged the actions undertaken by his Foundation since its creation in 2006.

“It is emotional to think that behind the 700 projects we have conducted or supported over those years, thanks to the €90 million we have spent, we have been able to protect dozens of species more effectively, we have helped to safeguard hundreds of ecosystems and we have helped thousands of our contemporaries,” said the Prince.

“I have crossed people from many countries and of every age, people in extremely different social settings (…) What I have felt over these 15 years is the extent to which all these people are dependent on a common destiny, one which is called Planet Earth. It is for them that we take action, it is thanks to them that we progress and it is with them that we will succeed. Because environmental protection is always about men and women.”

Prince Albert II of Monaco Awards 2021 © Axel Bastello, Palais Princier

The Water Award was presented to Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and youth activist Autumn Peltier, in recognition of her work to promote access to clean water in Canada. The 17-year-old has been a guest speaker at United Nations World Water Day and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, repeatedly raising awareness about the sacredness of water and the need to protect it. Autumn also advocates for the human rights of indigenous children, inspiring many young people around the world.

During a press conference held ahead of the awards ceremony, Autumn revealed that she has been an activist since the age of eight because “Some first nation communities in Canada have no water rights, which means they can’t drink their water. They have to boil it before using it, or they have to use bottled water for simple things like washing, bathing their children, and brushing their teeth. Canada is a first world country, but first nation people are neglected and treated as if we live in a third world country. That is why I do what I do.”

When questioned by Monaco Life about what the Planetary Health Award means to her and her activitism, she responded: “This award shows me that people are listening and hearing what I have to say. One of the main reasons why I speak up about indigenous issues specifically is because they were not talked about, there is no media coverage. A lot of people living here don’t know that first nation people are facing challenges like these. So, this award shows me that my voice is being heard internationally.”

 

Autumn Peltier, Prince Albert, Dr. Anne Larigauderie and Bren Smith at the Prince Albert II of Monaco Awards 2021 © Axel Bastello, Palais Princier

The Biodiversity Award was given to IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, in recognition of its valuable work on the state of knowledge about the world’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets.

The award was accepted by Dr. Anne Larigauderie, IPBES Executive Secretary, who said during the press conference that IPBES does for biodiversity what the IPCC does for climate change.

“Climate change is often considered the preeminent environmental challenge of our time – but the biodiversity crisis is too important to be an afterthought,” said Dr. Larigauderie. “Nature’s contributions to people are more degraded now than at any point in human history, but science tells us we can still reverse course if we act urgently, driving transformative change for people and the planet.”

IPBES was established as an independent body by governments in 2012 and now has 137 member states. It brings together expertise from all scientific disciplines and knowledge communities, including indigenous and local knowledge, to provide policy-relevant information for policies at all levels of government, the private sector and civil society.

The Climate Change Award went to GreenWave, a non-profit co-created by Bren Smith in 2014 to replicate and scale the ecological and economic benefits of regenerative ocean farming throughout North America. The organisation’s 10-year goal is to provide training, tools and support to 10,000 farmers to catalyse the planting of one million acres of regenerative ocean crops and yield meaningful economic and climate impacts.

“There is no denying that the impacts of climate change are accelerating. Our backs are against the wall, but we have a choice. We can give up, flee, and just let the planet die slowly, or our communities can work with the ocean to innovate a better future, one where we can all make a living on a living planet.”

Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation grant for IPCC recipients, © JC Vinaj FPA2

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Grant for IPCC

Another highlight of the evening was the awarding of grants to young researchers under the ‘Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation grant for IPCC’ programme, supported by the Foundation since 2011. The grants, attributed every two years, are a springboard for young researchers from developing countries, giving them the chance to continue their studies and post-doctoral research on climate change, for a three-year period.

Mr Abdallah Mokssit, Secretary of IPCC underlined that the programme was not only a success but a real advance because supporting over the years these young researchers is not only giving them access to science but it is also positively impacting their communities and region by increasing the scientific knowledge on local climate change issues. It is an important step in the fight against climate change enabling the implementation of innovative and efficient solutions.

The 2021 cohort integrates 27 students honoured for the quality of their work in the field of climate change and living soils. 10 students are sponsored by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, 10 by Moët Hennessy and 7 by the Cuomo Foundation, a longtime partner of the Foundation.

12 of the students attended the ceremony and received their diplomas on stage from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, alongside Mr Abdallah Mokssit, Secretary of the IPCC, Maria Elena Cuomo, President and Founder of the Cuomo Foundation, and Philippe Schaus, CEO of Moët Hennessy.

Opening the door on Art and Environment

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation also presented the world premiere of ‘The Way of the Rain – Hope for Earth’ created and directed by Sibylle Szaggars Redford, in collaboration with composer Tim Janis and video film artist and editor Thomas McBee. The environmental performance is an ode to nature’s powerful beauty while calling attention to the Earth’s vulnerability brought on by climate change, a message which echoes the work conducted by the Foundation.

“We congratulate HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation on its 15th anniversary. It is truly an honor to be invited to participate in this important occasion with the presentation of The Way of the Rain— Hope for Earth,” said Sibylle Szaggars Redford and her husband Robert Redford. “Now, more than ever, as the impacts of climate change continue to escalate and adversely affect our global communities, the dedication and efforts of HSH Prince Albert II and his Foundation shine brightly, leading the way for others to follow.”

The multidisciplinary show imagined as a film-concert welcomed on stage the ZhangomusiQ Orchestra and choirs from the Monte-Carlo Opera and Soprano Norah Amsellem. Robert Redford delivered words accompanied by young Monegasque pianist Stella Almondo.

 

 

Top photo left to right: Bren Smith, Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Prince Albert, Autumn Peltier ©Axel Bastello Prince’s Palace

 

 

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