Environmental Leaders: The Next Generation

By Caroline Hanna
September 21, 2016

Prince Albert

Prince Albert II of Monaco with Erika Shelburne, Senior Philanthropic Officer and Director of International Giving, in Monaco on June 30, 2016

In honor of his 35th class reunion this past May, Prince Albert Grimaldi ’81 of Monaco has given $2 million to Amherst to establish the Prince Albert II Foundation (PA2F) Green Revolving Fund. The fund will be used to support environmental initiatives in the College’s operations and facilities.

“With his establishment of the GRF, Prince Albert extends his generosity and his extraordinary efforts in the area of environmental sustainability, advocacy, and conservation to the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Biddy Martin, the College’s president. “His gift will benefit the Amherst community, but it also has the potential for a much broader impact. We are deeply grateful to Prince Albert for his generosity and are proud to be associated with his determination to help ensure the sustainability of our environment.”

Prince Albert’s gift is the single largest donation for any similar fund, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

“Amherst College should be commended for seizing the high impact fundraising opportunity that green revolving funds offer,” said Mark Orlowski, founder and executive director of the Institute. “Amherst is putting a spotlight on this exciting win-win sustainability opportunity, and I expect many other college development offices will take note.”

The overarching purpose of the Green Revolving Fund, or GRF, is to aid the College in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing the resources to implement innovative energy conservation measures. Other goals of the GRF include:

  • financing projects that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in College operations and facilities;
  • growing the GRF over time through the reinvestment of money saved by reducing energy demand and operating costs;
  • supporting the larger goal of carbon neutrality under the College’s Climate Action Plan through the application of renewable energy, student-led climate solution research and community engagement; and
  • enriching the overall educational experience by using campus operations as a living lab for student research and discovery.

In short, the GRF will enable the Office of Environmental Sustainability and other campus groups to create “a culture of action to foster a just and sustainable society.”

“I am thrilled and honored about the implementation of the Green Revolving Fund, which will support environmental initiatives in the College’s operations and facilities. The fund, the goal of which is to frame sustainability as a long-term investment, must also be considered a way to reduce actual operational costs in these areas,” said Prince Albert. “In my roles as both head of state and president of my foundation, my strategies include local solutions and are guided by my fight for the preservation of our planet for future generations.” 

Transparent Proposal Process

“The process for deciding which ventures receive GRF support involves a committee of permanent members from the Offices of Environmental Sustainability, Facilities and Finance, in addition to a group of rotating members representing faculty, staff and alumni,” said Laura Draucker, the College’s director of sustainability. The rotating members will serve for appointments of two years.

Proposals will be submitted to that committee via an open online system, she explained. The process will be open to all members of the campus community who have energy saving ideas. An initial list of projects will be identified through a comprehensive campus energy audit conducted by an independent third-party consultant. Money saved or earned through the chosen project will replenish the GRF and finance future projects.

Projects funded through a student innovation fund, on the other hand, will be crowd-sourced through a heavily promoted open-call period to ensure robust student participation. The GRF committee will determine which projects to finance and then review the performance of previously funded undertakings. The group will also provide yearly reports about the work of the fund to interested community members. These updates will be available online.

In addition to projected energy and greenhouse gas reductions, projects will be evaluated on their ability to engage students in meaningful ways, said Draucker. “Our students are critical stewards of the College as well as the environment,” she said. “The hope is that empowering them to think creatively and realistically about the future of sustainability at Amherst will result in some out-of-the-box ideas that could be used beyond the confines of our campus. I’m excited to see what will come out of this process.”

Shared Commitment to Sustainability

Amherst’s efforts dovetail well with Prince Albert’s longstanding interest in conservation and sustainability, and his love for his alma mater. Last year, the PA2F, his official environmental charity, created a summer internship for a current Amherst undergraduate. The internship is based in Monaco and gives students a chance to work with a foundation known for its success in shaping environmental understanding and action on the international stage.

The PA2F was founded by Prince Albert in June 2006 to address the “planet’s alarming environmental situation.” Dedicated to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development on a global scale, it supports initiatives of public and private organizations in three fields:  research and studies, technological innovation and socially aware practices.

Prince Albert continues as the organization’s president and has remained closely involved with its many projects. In the 10 years since he founded PA2F, the organization has supported critically important initiatives that range from implementing renewable energies in developing countries, to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Peru, to helping establish community-led marine protected areas in Madagascar.

Prince Albert is the only head of state ever to travel to both the North and South Pole, and he frequently takes part in marine scientific expeditions. In 2009, he was awarded the Roger Revelle Prize for his efforts to protect the environment and promote scientific research. This past May, the prince and U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry were honored at the 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards ceremony at the Carnegie Institution. The Benchley Awards are the world’s preeminent ocean honors, and Prince Albert was presented with the Award for Excellence in National Stewardship.

The launch of the GRF was announced on June 30 in Monaco at a gala celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the PA2F. That event was attended by Prince Albert; classmate Jerome de Bontin ’81, P’15, ’06, who is a U.S. board member of the PA2F, and his wife, Helga, P’15, ’06; foundation intern Shirley Duquene ’17; and Erika Shelburne, senior philanthropic adviser and director of international giving at Amherst College.