March 20, 2009
Prince Albert II

Ipek Cem's guest is Prince Albert II of Monaco. Cem and Prince Albert discuss his passion for the environment, the Prince Albert II Foundation, his family heritage and his vision for Monaco.

Ipek Cem: My guest today is His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. Welcome to Global Leaders, your Highness.


Prince Albert II: Thank you very much.


Ipek Cem: Basically we are sitting here in Istanbul and the Istanbul Water Forum is taking place. We know that you are passionate about the environment. What are some of the findings about the water shortage in the world and some of the calamities surrounding scarcity of water that are really alarming you today?


Prince Albert II: Well, I think that the mere fact that a billion people on this planet don't have access to clean water every day, that two million people a year die because of the problems with water that is contaminated, or that they don't have access to it. I think just those numbers alone are staggering, and can only compel us to try to find solutions, and try to find better solutions. And this forum, I think, has been very successful in that it has brought different world leaders together, and that it will be hugely attended and that not only will the issue of water be brought out, and be at the forefront of the international agenda, and that there is more concern and awareness about it – that's the first thing – but that there are solutions that are beginning to be put in place in different parts of the world. Of course we think especially of the African continent, or even some Asian countries as well, that's where the urgencies are, but there can be dangers also with an over-abundance of water, and that's the other side of the issue. The issues concerning natural catastrophes that happen because of as a result of climate change, as well. So there is such a wide variety of problems that concern water from difficult access, to poor management, to drought, and then to the consequences of extreme weather. I think that to be able to bring these issues out on an international forum, and to be able to start addressing them in a meaningful way, I think is a huge step forward.


Ipek Cem: I know that with your Foundation work, also, that water is one of the main topics that you are addressing, and like you mentioned for example with the Arctic icecap melting and other environmental damages we can see a lot of flooding in the world, which in fact could affect countries like Turkey, as well, which has low areas next to the sea. How do you see this possibility, because in environmental work there are let's say two trains of thought, generally: one idea is that imminent danger, we have to stop how we are working, and make a change right now; the other idea, let's be cautious, statistics may not be so significant, you have to look over a longer period of time. What is your sense of urgency?


Prince Albert II: Well, I think the evidence, the scientific evidence is out there already now. If you… just to take the conclusions of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, and their findings, that was also over a few years, and so they really talked to the specialists in each area. And the fact... Just the fact alone that the temperature curves, or the mean temperature of the world, has risen and at the parallel line, the rise in CO2 emissions, I think that's one extremely clear evidence that something very serious is happening, and that man has an influence, in that man made activities, human activities, have an impact on the way our climate is behaving. And I think that if you fail to see that evidence then you are not going on the right track, and there will be more evidence – I am sure – in months or years to come, and there is… there are studies going on right now around the world, and I saw some of those studies on climate change when I was able to visit the different stations I did in Antarctica. For instance there was a lot of different research programmes during this international Polar year that just… that is ending this month. And so I think that the science is there already, and will be even more conclusive in years to come, that we can not go on as "business as usual". We have to adapt our behaviour and our way of doing things to lessen our impact and our emissions. Thus we have to help the environment.


Ipek Cem: Your trip to Antarctica in 2006… actually many people look at your background being the product of the US, and also of course, you lineage. In Monaco they make a correlation between outdoors and the US heritage, and the Kelly family, but when I was looking at your Arctic trip I realise that your great great grandfather, in 1906, made the same trip. This was very interesting for me. So where do you say you are taking this environmental feeling from?


Prince Albert II: Well, I think from all sides. But I think it is definitely family heritage. Not only from my parents, of course, who encouraged this. My father was a pioneer in different projects – intergovernmental projects – also concerning the Mediterranean. He did a lot to try to protect… try to better protect different species in the Mediterranean, and different coastal areas. But you are… and my mother, of course, was very close to nature and she, as a Kelly I think, was very active and introduced all of us all of us children to the joys and the benefits of outdoor life, and to appreciate sceneries and to appreciate plants and animals. But I think also the great influence, and the great inspiration to do this trip to the Arctic, and in a way to Antarctica as well, although he never went there, was Prince Albert the First. My great great grandfather. And his pioneering work in encouraging the development of oceanography which is a very… which at that time was a very young science, and the fact that his adventurous spirit carried him out at sea, and his love for the sea, and his love for navigation, compelled him to do 28 different expeditions, and four in the Arctic region. So 1906 was his most accomplished expedition, but he did three others before, and one after in 1907. And I think that the fact that he, in the back of his mind, he tried to go to the North Pole, but that wasn't really the aim of his expedition. He had other… he had scientists with him and he had other experiments to carry out, but I'm pretty sure that in the back of his mind he would have loved to have gone there, and he went as far north as he could with his yacht, but… so I modestly, and I didn't mean to, you know, I wanted to keep his vision and his legacy alive, and wanted sort of to finish the trip for him. So that's one of the reasons why I went to the Arctic, but the other was to try to better understand what was going on there and to also create more awareness on the very tangible and very visible impacts that climate change have on the Arctic, but in fact on both polar regions, because I saw some signs of not only ice melting, but changes in different eco-systems around Antarctica as well. So I think Polar areas are very sensitive to climate change and they will be… we will have to watch them very, very closely if we are to get the right assessment of the situation concerning climate change.


Ipek Cem: When we look at the environmental cause, the United States, even though it is a big polluter has really remained behind the curve when we look at the European countries, or other parts of the world, but now there is a new administration in the US, and environmental concerns seem to be on the agenda – how do you think this will impact globally trying to counteract environmental damage?


Prince Albert II: I think it will have a huge impact, and I really can not thank President Obama for taking that step. I can thank him enough for taking that step, and for being proactive in the first days of his Presidency, to sign that very important bill for renewable energies, and for… as a first step of action against climate change, and I think we will see that that leadership will have a great impact around the world. And it's already starting. When the most powerful nation in the world is concerned, and showing concern, and trying to find solutions, I think that will inspire many other countries to do the same.


Ipek Cem: When we look at Monaco, even though it's a small, small state, but its impact in the world affairs – culturally, in the sports world, and as an attraction for tourism, and for other issues – it's beyond its size. What are some of your visions for your country, since 2005, that you want to take it to the next level?


Prince Albert II: Well, you know, the… I think the great asset of the Principality is the diversity of its economy, and we have a – I think – found a great balance between our service industries, our manufacturing industries, our tourism industry, and other components of the economy, and so I think it's by maintaining this balance, and by even seeking new areas that maybe we don't… we haven't explored yet… maybe in scientific research, or in medical research, it will obviously be always on a small scale, but if it's adapted, if it's well adapted to us, and if it's competitive enough it will only help our economy. But we will not stop in our different developments. Obviously the worldwide economic crisis is slowing things down, even for us, not in a dramatic way. In past crises we have felt the effect of the crisis in a very subdued way and in a delayed way, as well. But I think that if we can continue our development in a harmonious way, and in a way that also. Bearing in mind environmental concerns and sustainability, but if we can move in that direction and keep diversifying our economy, I think we will be on the right track.


Ipek Cem: I have read somewhere that you might be thinking of building some tracts on the sea to extend the Monaco shore. Is this project still in the works?


Prince Albert II: This land extension project (Yes) was underway, and we were in the process of choosing one of the grouping that would carry out the project, but because of the world-wide economic crisis, and because I wanted to have a better study on the environmental impact that such a project could have, the project has been stopped, and we will see if we will be able to carry it out some time in the future. There is no rush. We have other projects, and other equipment projects, and other real estate projects in Monaco. This is not the end of our development. It was, it is a great, I think it still is a great idea, but it has to be done in the right way, and we will see when the time will be right to restart this project.


Ipek Cem: Your Highness, we are a Mediterranean country as well, and we know that bio-diversity in the Mediterranean is declining sharply. And these issues, you know, when you are living your life day to day basis, you might not notice the lack of fish or you know how eco-systems are being eradicated, and the thing with the environment, and also with bio-diversity – I hear – is that it has, like, a snow-ball effect… meaning it doesn't go incrementally all the time. How much… how much of this can be taken back? I mean is there a way to bring back bio-diversity, or you just retain what you have?


Prince Albert II: Well. I think that unfortunately, and I am talking world-wide, not only on the Mediterranean, although one of our priorities with my Foundation is the Mediterranean, along with the Polar regions, and along with developing countries. We have a lot of projects in the Mediterranean, and the Principality also is Government is very concerned about Mediterranean projects. We also, with our international cooperation department, we help other Mediterranean countries. And I am also President of the CIESM, the International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean, so I have some insight in to this. But I think we have lost a lot of bio-diversity world-wide. Marine bio-diversity, and certain species that we didn't know very well, some have gone. I think we have already lost some… some species. And maybe we will never see them again. So let's try now not to loose the ones that are probably even more visible, like Blue Fin Tuna. That is really an emergency, and there are other emergencies. Obviously we have to try to tackle them all at the same time, but we have to establish priorities, as well. And so I think the Mediterranean is a very – as other eco… and the eco-systems in the Mediterranean are very fragile. They are very fragile in other parts of the world, but the fact that it's almost a closed sea means that there are very specific events happening in the Mediterranean and it needs to be looked after in a very urgent way.


Ipek Cem: You have, obviously, a grand family legacy. My audience will know Princess Grace from her American days, and then her being Princess Grace of Monaco. Of course your father. What kind of legacy, even today, it's as if they are alive and their legacy, is globally around us. What kind of responsibility, what kind of legacy does this give you to this date?


Prince Albert II: Well, it's a tremendous legacy. My parents have taught me, my sisters as well, have taught me so much in terms of what my responsibilities were, and what they were going to be, but also I think in shaping my character and my outlook on the world… of course that's what when you have a close family and when you have parents that have that sensitivity it's natural that they pass that on to you, and I think that my basic character was in a large part… of course it's then your personal experience, but and we had a I had a wonderful childhood, and I think that they passed on to all of us the right values, and the right sense of responsibility.


Ipek Cem: What interested our team and our audience is that there is a balance. There is monarchy on the one side, and modernity on the other side. You seem to have had a relatively normal life on the one side, and people are almost astonished about this. How, in this day and age, how do you balance this modernity, and then of course the responsibilities of the State and the whole tradition that you are part of?


Prince Albert II: Well, you know, as in most things in life it's a question of balance and of judgement, and of time, and of managing your own time and you own space. I think what is important is to… is to carry out your duties as best you can and to find, always, the right solution, that is best for your country, for the common good. But then on the other side if you don't save a little time for your personal development, and for your personal life, and for your private life, then you have a very imbalanced life, and you feel very miserable, and I don't want that to happen.


Ipek Cem: You are an avid sportsman – this was again something that came up in our research – and you were part of the Olympic team for many, many years. How are you able to continue you sporting activities?


Prince Albert II: Sport has always been a very important part of my life, and it has taught me so much. In fact I have often said I have learned as much on the sport field as I have had in a classroom. Maybe it is a little exaggerated, but it is, I think it gives you a great sense of… it gives you great values, and it gives you great sense of, well, of who you are and what your relationship to others can be. And so I am very proud to have achieved the little things that I have achieved in sport, on a personal note, but also to be a member of the International Olympic Committee. Just to be a member of the Olympic family has been a source of great inspiration for me. It is an extraordinary movement, and it's a movement that – as you know – largely goes beyond the realm of just sport. It's the greatest movement of solidarity, of friendship and peace around the world. And it also leads to that message needs to be brought out even more than it is today. But it's such a unifying movement, and the good work that it does is not always well recognised. And it is our duty as IOC members… so it is my duty, as well, to try to promote that message. In our world of today there are many, and I am part of also a lot of charitable organisations, and… that are extremely important too. The impact and the power of the message of… that the Olympic movement has is, I think, still very meaningful today, and can do a lot of good around the world.


Ipek Cem: I know you have been to Istanbul several times, and I know that you also have a special relationship with the Koprulu family, and they have been part of your family's life. I wanted to find out how this relation between the families was introduced, established, and how it continues today, because it's very interesting.


Prince Albert II: Well, first of all let me say that it's always a great pleasure for me to be in Turkey, and to be especially in Istanbul, which is an incredible city; a beautiful city, but also a very meaningful city. The great history, the great culture here is… never ceases to amaze me. We have had friendly relations with Turkey for many, many years, and we have had Consular relations since 1954. We now have Diplomatic relations, since last year when I was very happy to accept your first Ambassador to the Principality, and I think this is a great new dimension in our relations, and I had a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to receive your Prime Minister three years ago in Monaco, and I had a wonderful meeting yesterday with you President who has invited me for an official visit here in the future. The date obviously is not set. And I also informally last night, during dinner, invited him to Monaco, so I hope he will be able to come and visit us as well. And so we have always had wonderful Consuls here to go back to that. And the Koprulu family, we came into contact very… in a very sort of lucky way, I think, many years ago. Mr Koprulu is a wonderful Consul, and very active and very eager to promote Monaco in the best way.


Ipek Cem: On this note I want to thank you very much for your time.


Prince Albert II: Thank you.


Ipek Cem: We would like to present you with a book about Turkey.


Prince Albert II: Thank you.


Ipek Cem: It's in English, and it's about nature of Turkey.


Prince Albert II: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.


Ipek Cem: Thank you for your time, Your Highness.


This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, NTV networks and Ipek Cem cannot vouch for its accuracy.