20 MARCH 2024

MSC Foundation co-hosts high-profile event at Monaco Ocean Week dedicated to the power of philanthropy for effective ocean conservation 

The panel discussion addressing local challenges of national significance was welcomed by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and co-hosted by the MSC Foundation, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Velux Foundation and Filantropia Cortes Solari 

Focus Area: Environmental Conservation


The MSC Foundation co-convened, for the second consecutive year, this prestigious panel discussion held in Monaco on 19 March 2024 as part of Monaco Ocean Week. 

The panellists and attendees were welcomed with opening remarks by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, after which Charlotte Mogenson of the Velux Foundation moderated this discussion focused on how global and local, public, civil society and private sector stakeholders can support philanthropy for ocean protection. Using the MSC Foundation’s pioneering Super Coral Programme in The Bahamas as an example, Daniela Picco, Executive Director of the MSC Foundation, emphasised the massive potential of simultaneously bringing different partners together – in this case institutional, academic and MSC Group partners – and supporting their collaborative efforts with long-term investment in sound science and research. It is this, she explained, which has propelled the Super Coral Programme to develop and test new techniques to increase the resilience of coral reefs, establishing a nursery for critically-endangered elkhorn corals that all survived a marine heatwave in the summer of 2023, providing real hope for coral reefs in the region.

The other members of the panel were Mahir Aliyev – Regional Coordinator for Europe at the United Nations Environment Programme, Francisca Cortés Solari – Executive President, Philanthropy Cortés Solari, Abdallah Mokssit – Secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Minna Epps – Head of IUCN's Ocean Program, Assunção Cristas – former Minister of Agriculture and the Sea of Portugal, Moncef Ziani – Union of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions of Africa, Ramzi Issa – UBS, creator of the Environmental, Social, and Governance debt-swap market, and Susana Salvador – Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area.

Following the event, Daniela Picco explained: “We chose the Super Coral Programme as a good example of addressing local challenges of national and indeed global significance because our oceans provide much of the food humanity needs and 50% of the oxygen we breathe. They regulate our weather and the planet’s response to climate change. And the most diverse marine ecosystems are coral reefs, which support at least 25% of all species in our oceans. That’s why it’s so important to save them and why we believe it’s critical for the MSC Foundation to play an active role in these global discussions, bringing together local and international experts, the scientific community, public authorities, associations and the private sector. We do so in a spirit of open dialogue and experimentation that embodies the seafaring history and experience of the MSC Group and our founding family’s commitment to future generations.”

It was in this spirit that the MSC Foundation joined forces with IUCN a year ago and is supporting the 100 scientists from 30 countries involved in the scientific analysis of over 850 coral species worldwide needed to update the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

The Foundation launched its Super Coral Programme to restore the coral reefs off Ocean Cay in 2019, the same year that MSC Cruises completed its environmental restoration of the island as an eco-destination for cruise guests. This landmark initiative saw MSC Cruises collaborate with the Bahamian government, leading universities, marine scientists and conservationists in a project that involved removing 7,500 tons of scrap metal from the abandoned industrial sand-mining site, and planting nearly 5,000 trees and 75,000 indigenous plants, flowers, and shrubs.

Dr. Owen O’Shea, MSC Foundation’s Marine Programme & Research Manager commented: “I have witnessed first-hand, and been a part of, the transformation of Ocean Cay from an industrial wasteland to an island thriving with life. MSC Cruises’ environmental vision and commitment to meeting standards for the restoration of the island are unparalleled in the region. Our Super Coral Programme, implemented on the ground since 2022, is committed to future generations of Bahamians and marine scientists. Its designation as a “Hope Spot” by Dr Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue in December 2022, alongside over 150 other places scientifically recognised as critical to ocean health, is a significant achievement.”

Dr. David Smith, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Essex (UK) and Chief Scientific Advisor on the MSC Foundation’s Advisory Board, added: “We are delighted to have identified high thermal resilience in some genetic populations of corals, developed techniques to grow corals in open water nurseries and started to trial methods to outplant these corals in the environment.”