The Foundation

The Fondation Pacifique is a non-profit organization
established in Geneva in 2007

An independent body, the foundation was set up by a handful of people motivated by a passion for adventure and a keen awareness of the challenges we face today. It represents the purest expressionof Geneva's civil society, conveying its spirit of enterprise, its sense of commitment for the common good and a desire to coexist on a global scale – a direct echo of what has become known as the 'Spirit of Geneva'.

Driven by humanist principles, the Fondation Pacifique embodies the values of solidarity and complementarity through specific, strongly value-added accomplishments to benefit oceans and people all over the world.


The Fondation Pacifique has two main missions: to promote greater understanding of human impact on the oceans and to raise awareness of related issues concerning sustainable development.

 To fulfil this twofold mission, the foundation designs, organizes and conducts multidisciplinary ocean expeditions on traditional sailboats that give the international scientific community the chance to carry out long-term research programmes or shorter-term missions, thanks to the previously-unsuspected potential of these platforms.

At the same time, the Fondation Pacifique organizes outreach and communication activities for decision-makers and the general public via a wide range of actions that include events, media and digital presence in Geneva and Switzerland.


Because it is Swiss, and because it embodies, in its own way, what is known as the "Spirit of Geneva", the Fondation Pacifique conceives and conducts its expeditions in a humanistic spirit of knowledge-sharing and exchange between actors from different fields (governmental, economic, scientific, cultural and civil society) who are dealing with oceanographic issues. As a platform for implementing strongly added-value projects and as a bridge between continents and people, the foundation promotes the search for scientific diagnosis as a pre-condition for any solution that will benefit the oceans.

Background and rationale

The Fondation Pacifique defines its actions within a global context that has made it increasingly urgent for us to gain greater understanding of the human impact on the oceans, home to an ecosystem that remains largely unknown despite its crucial importance to human existence.

0 %

of marine environments
in terms of their biodiversity and

0 million
marine species
are still unknown
to science.

km2 of the seabed is
permanently in total


people have explored the
deepest point of the oceans, while
12 have walked on the moon.

0 %

of the seabed has
been mapped in
high resolution.

In December 2017, the United Nations declared that 2021-2030 would be the "Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development". The UN’s objective is to mobilise significant stakeholders from all over the world (including governments, companies, academic institutions, civil society actors and philanthropic organizations) around a common agenda that will place science at the heart of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14 ) for the oceans: "Conserving and sustainably using oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development", one of the 17 SDGs that the 193 UN member countries set for themselves in 2015.

Oceans and coastal regions are indeed essential to life on our planet. The ocean is the Earth’s largest ecosystem, regulating climate change and crucially influencing the economy, nutrition, health and wellbeing, water supply and energy all over the world. According to the first UN World Oceans Report, "dependence on the ecosystem services provided by the ocean is likely to increase as population increases."

Though while "we once thought that the ocean was an autonomous, vast and indefinitely resilient portion of the Earth's system, capable of absorbing virtually all the pressures exerted by the human population", it turns out that (according to the first global assessment of our oceans) "our civilization does not have much time to avoid the disastrous cycle of declining ocean health, which would have a dramatic impact on our ability to continue to meet our needs."

Ocean science is, therefore, "essential for ensuring the planet's sustainability and good management of the oceans", as called for by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This is why the Fondation Pacifique aims to help boost global efforts to meet the challenges facing the planet.

Board members
Pietro Godenzi

A biologist and the founder and co-director of the company Ecoservices SA, which specialises in the environment and safety at work in Geneva, Pietro Godenzi is a highly experienced sailor. After a four-year sailing tour around Africa, he was among those who launched the restoration of Fleur de Passion in the early 2000s with a group of friends to ensure that the yacht’s destiny would be... pacific! Highly aware of environmental and social issues, Pietro is also one of the skippers taking turns aboard the sailboats, while in Geneva he supervises the socio-educational aspects of the expeditions.

Samuel Gardaz
A historian specialising in the Arab-Muslim world, Samuel Gardaz inherited his passion for the oceans from his family roots, descended as he is from a long line of Russian naval officers from Tsarist times. A journalist for the Swiss daily newspaper Le Temps and Agence France Presse newswire agency in Geneva, for which he has also written on issues relating to oceans, Samuel was also head of Rolex's editorial department in tandem with his volunteer work for the Fondation Pacifique, before deciding to devote himself exclusively to the latter in 2015. Samuel is in charge of Public Affairs at the foundation.
Markus Kesseler
A geologist, Markus Kesseler works as an expert on cartographic data for the Canton of Geneva. An experienced sailor who believes strongly in the educational possibilities offered by the open sea and the need to conserve the blue planet, Markus has been a loyal member of the team from the outset of the "Pacifique" project in the early 2000s, particularly during the process of restoring Fleur de Passion.
Pascal Sottas
Pascal SottasFounding Member
Pascal SottasFounding Member
A carpenter and a socio-professional teacher who has worked for many years at the Atelier ABC in Geneva, Pascal Sottas is the director of the A2Mains socio-educational programme. He was closely involved in the restoration of Fleur de Passion from 2003 to 2009, during which time he made full use of all his woodworking skills, knowledge and experience, as well as his love of boat-building and "working together".
Daniel Chambaz
Daniel ChambazAn environmentalist chemist
Daniel ChambazAn environmentalist chemist
holds a PhD in science from the University of Geneva. He has devoted his life to the protection of the environment. After working as a scientific officer at the Federal Office for the Environment, he returned to Geneva in 1999 to tackle the problem of waste management in the Canton. Since 2007, he has held the post of Director General of the Cantonal Office for the Environment and is also active as a volunteer in various environmental and humanitarian associations.
Vincent Maître
Vincent MaîtreA lawyer at the Geneva Bar
Vincent MaîtreA lawyer at the Geneva Bar
and a partner at the law firm JANIN WAEBER MAITRE, Municipal Councillor and Representative for the Parliament of the Republic and Canton of Geneva since 2009, and President of the Geneva Christian-Democratic Party (PDC), Vincent Maître is also involved in various non-profit foundations and associations. He is deeply concerned with environmental issues, and in particular with the state of the oceans and our human footprint on their biotopes. Vincent continues to expand his knowledge through his other passion – travelling around the world and discovering civilizations. Working within the Fondation Pacifique, Vincent is committed to raising awareness on environmental issues among politicians and decision-makers.
Marie Monteau
Marie MonteauFounding Member
Marie MonteauFounding Member
Xavier Isaac
Xavier IsaacCEO of Accuro
Xavier IsaacCEO of Accuro
Xavier Isaac is CEO of Accuro, the award winning multi-jurisdictional Trust & Family Office business, and as such he is a principal driver of the Group vision and strategy. He gained over 20 years of experience in various senior management positions at ABN AMRO Bank and Trust in Luxembourg, Geneva and Jersey prior to joining Investec in 2005. Originally from Belgium, Xavier graduated magna cum laude in law from the Catholic University of Louvain. Since February 2016, Xavier has been the treasurer and President of the Financial Committee of the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation. He joined the board of Fondation Pacifique in August 2019.

April 2015 - September 2019

The Fondation Pacifique – aboard Fleur de Passion and with the support of the Canton of Geneva – is currently carrying out its second major expedition: The Ocean Mapping Expedition, a four-year voyage around the world, following the route taken 500 years ago by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan on what was the first circumnavigation of the globe.

April 2015 - September 2019

2009 - 2014

Under the patronage of UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Fondation Pacifique led its first long-term expedition, aboard Fleur de Passion, through the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic, the Red Sea and the Caribbean. During this expedition (titled The Changing Oceans Expedition), various scientific programmes were conducted in partnership with international academic institutions and NGOs.

July 2009

After a restoration process that lasted six and a half years, Fleur de Passion was launched and baptised in Marseille in the presence of Albert Falco, expedition leader of the Calypso, Commandant Cousteau’s oceanographic research vessel.


July 2009


With Fleur de Passion, the Fondation Pacifique participated in the 50th World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Barcelona.


To find out more about The Ocean Mapping Expedition

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