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Hot debate

Monaco? Most of us will immediately think of enormous wealth and waste of resources – and certainly not their considerate use. However, the Principality of Monaco advocates sustainability and plans to have achieved climate neutrality by 2050. The Monaco Convention Bureau and its partners will do their share, for example by staging conferences such as the Transition Forum.

heat wave scorched France in June of this year. French meteorologists measured 45 degrees C, red alert was ordered in some regions and the French parliament declared a state of climate emergency. The 'grande chaleur' is a hot issue for people living on the Mediterranean and right on cue for the Transition Forum in Monaco. Under the High Patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, the conference is dedicated to powering the transition to a clean and sustainable future. Even if Prince Albert II didn't give the welcoming address in person, his ecology-minded approach is ubiquitous in the other dignitaries' speeches. "Acting means acting on our lifestyles! On the way we live, we eat and move. What is the price for this? We cannot behave as at the beginning of the 20th century," emphasized Lionel le Maux, chairman of Aqua Asset Management and cofounder of the Transition Forum.

On June 26 and 27 of this year, 60 speakers and more than 200 participants met at the Hotel Fairmont Monte-Carlo for interdisciplinary debate at the conference on 'Shifting Towards Sustainable Lifestyles'. Covering topics including 'Food', 'Mobility', 'Housing', 'Production and Consumption', climate researchers and politicians, investors and business founders sought solutions to accelerate the transition to a cleaner future. "We are at a turning point in history, engaged in a battle against climate change that we cannot afford to lose," le Maux warned. That attitude was seconded by the six inaugural speakers, among these Johan Eliasch, founder of the NGO Cool Earth: "We all know the planet wasn’t designed to accommodate 7.5 billion people. There is a lot of talk about it, but enough action? No! The way we live costs millions of tons of carbon."

His Highness Prince Albert II is taking action. In his strategy plan, he has fixed definite goals: climate neutrality by 2050! This July, the principality will introduce e-bikes and e-taxis. In addition to environmentally compatible mobility, focus will also be on renewable energy sources such as solar energy. Not to forget, the sun shines on the South European city state on 300 days/year. The 'Mission for Energy Transition' manages the 'National Green Fund' for major projects in compliance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The largest project of the principality with a size of two square kilometers is land reclamation: local authorities plan to expand its territorial expanse by six hectares with the help of solar energy.
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Green benchmark: The Grimaldi Forum has been certified to ISO 14001 already since 2008 as one of the very first congress centers in Europe.

The panorama windows in the lobby of the 'Salle d’Or' meeting room feature a beautiful view on the sea. Inside the room, the first track was all about 'Food', and thus of course also water. 80 percent of our clean water is used for the production of foodstuffs. Agri business is the leading water polluter and responsible for between 10 and 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Pierre Gagnaire wore a chef's jacket when he delivered his 'Disruption Speak'. The Michelin-Star chef warned: "We have to take care of what we offer." Guests, restaurants and hotels should order or prepare only what will actually be consumed. "Meat is the center of the plate of many chefs," criticized Veronika Pountcheva, Senior Vice-President and Global Director Corporate Responsibility with Metro AG. In the panel discussion 'Food Transition', she pointed to new proteins as a potential solution. But eating is of course also a cultural issue. "The French love meat," said one of the participants, not really being surprised that menus at the Transition Forum contained meat and fish.

The session 'Innovators in Focus' gave start-ups a platform to present their solutions. Philippe Ouaki Di Giono is the founder of 'Polyter'. His fertilizer is supposed to reduce water consumption by up to 80 percent. In the intermissions, other exhibits were on display in the Fairmont's underground garage. Here, among the luxury automobiles, delegates had a firsthand look at a device installed by Pierre Magnes, co-founder of Firmus Grey Water Recycling System (FGWRS). The member of the start-up network 'Monaco Tech' collects the water accumulating from the 596 rooms and suites and recycles it for flushing toilets. This is a pilot project readily supported by the Fairmont Monte-Carlo, a member of AccorHotels, which has launched its 'Planet 21' program focused on environmentally sustainable priorities including eco-friendly food.

82 percent of the hotel rooms in Monaco are environmentally certified either with Green Globe or Green Key; most hotels have environmental managers and teams. The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, just recently awarded the Green-Globe-Gold-certificate, is a role model here. For General Manager Frederic Darnet, this award is not the ultimate end to his commitment, it marks the beginning. His hotel has solar panels on the roof, under which it features a total of 45 rooms for events with up to 950 persons as well as altogether 30 restaurants including a bio restaurant. The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort is owned by the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer with four casinos and four hotels.

At Place du Casino are the Hôtel Hermitage Monte- Carlo and the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo with 278 and 209 rooms and suites respectively, both hotels with elegant facilities for conferences. The Monte- Carlo Société des Bains de Mer just recently revitalized the latter at costs amounting to €270 million, and another €370 million were invested into the new One Monte-Carlo Conference Centre nearby in the new One Monte-Carlo district. One day after its inauguration on June 4, 2019, Ernest&Young (EY) staged a meeting here with 450 attendees. Because space is a scarce commodity in Monaco, visitors must take a 12-meter escalator down to the nine meeting rooms on a total of 1,445 sqms. Above ground level are 37 apartments, 17 boutiques and a restaurant. The ensemble was built according to the 'Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method' (BREAM). For GM Emmanuel Sine, this is the basis for achieving his personal goal: "We want to get the Green Globe in 2020 for the conference center."

The 'Grimaldi Forum' congress center with its 35,000 sqm capacity for events has been certified to ISO 14001 already since 2008. Within a period of ten years, the center managed to reduce its consumption of energy by 25 percent, and that of water by more than 50 percent. In 2019, the objective is to have plastic-free daily operations, conversion to 100 percent renewable energy is to follow in 2020. The Grimaldi Forum plans to be the most productive source of solar energy in the principality and in September will put a 2,500-sqm solar power system into operation on its roof. At the same time, Thomas Trucchi will take up his new position as environmental manager. He's keeping a close eye on the land reclamation project, because this from next year on will boost the Grimaldi Forum's exhibition capacity by 6,000 sqms and add a new terrace with 600 sqms. "Sustainability is getting more important," said Trucchi, who has retained a realistic view: "CSR might not be most important to all clients, but if you don’t have it, you have a problem. It is a transition moment!"
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New: The One Monte-Carlo Conference Centre, where visitors take an escalator down to the meeting rooms.

"Let yourself be convinced by our eco-friendly approach in a country that aims for carbon neutrality by 2050," invited the Grimaldi Forum and the Monaco Convention Bureau meeting professionals at the IMEX 2019 to introduce them to their new initiative for eco-friendly events: 'Business is Green'. "At a time when the environment and the problems of climate change increasingly affect business decisions, the Principality of Monaco has won the Green Palm for Europe's best carbon balance sheet," Sandrine Camia explained. The Director of the Monaco Convention Bureau added: "Choosing Monaco enables a reduction of 15 to 40 percent in the carbon footprint, on average, compared to cities such as Barcelona, London or Paris." She referred to the Global Destination Sustainability Index with Monaco ranked 13th. Here, too, the House of Grimaldi is in the lead. "Sustainability was always important to them," said Camia. First for Prince Rainier III and now for his son. On the occasion of the Transition Forum, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco warned: "If we do not act today, we will no longer be able to act tomorrow."
"If we do not act today, we will no longer be able to act tomorrow."
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco