The monarch of one of the smallest countries in the world is being honored this week in La Jolla for leadership in bringing world attention and sustainable action to protect the global environment.
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco will receive the Roger Revelle Prize on Oct. 23 at a reception and dinner hosted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).
The Roger Revelle Prize at Scripps, named for the late, former SIO Director and UCSD founder Roger Revelle, honors leaders in the public or private sectors who recognize the interrelationships of global systems, think on a planetary scale and make outstanding contributions to advance or promote research in ocean, climate and earth sciences.
Prince Albert is being lauded for his pivotal role in drawing world attention to the deleterious effects of ocean acidification as increased amounts of carbon dioxide are absorbed by the ocean, altering water chemistry, which threatens the survival of coral reefs, shellfish and the marine food web in general.
Last year, he invited 150 leading marine scientists from 26 countries to Monaco to discuss the issue. Out of that meeting came the Monaco Declaration, which called upon world leaders for urgent action to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
"It was Prince Albert who encouraged the scientists to write the declaration, and he has been responsible for getting it distributed and popularizing it," SIO Director Tony Haymet said. "This issue and the understanding of CO2 in the atmosphere are very much connected with Roger Revelle's legacy and make the prince a worthy recipient of the prize."
Among world leaders, Prince Albert has distinguished himself for his grasp of environmental issues and for personally leading scientific fact-finding trips. Last month, he addressed the United Nations, calling upon the international community to set stronger targets for curbing global warming pollution worldwide and to take action to address new industrial threats that are emerging in a melting Arctic environment.
Environmental matters have been a long-standing concern of Prince Albert. Through the Prince Albert II Foundation, millions of dollars in grants have been awarded to support sustainable and ethical projects especially in the Mediterranean Basin, the Polar regions and in the world's least-developed countries.
In April, Monaco will host the first meeting of the Europe and Mediterranean Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Forum, which will focus on a range of energy efficiency and policy issues with the goal of elevating awareness and accelerating action on implementing energy efficiency programs to slow climate change.
This marks the second awarding of the Roger Revelle Prize at Scripps. The inaugural prize was presented in March to former Vice President Al Gore in conjunction with the Roger Revelle 100th Birthday Celebration. But SIO officials are quick to point out that the Revelle Prize is not envisioned as an annual award.
"It's just happenstance there are two recipients this year," Haymet said.
While this is Prince Albert's first official visit to La Jolla, it may not be the last. In addition to being awarded the Revelle Prize, the occasion will also celebrate a developing partnership between Monaco and SIO on ocean acidification research.
Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.