Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


According to the president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, this conference is a "unique opportunity" to demonstrate the "national vocation" of investing in the sea.

The current president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, praised his predecessor, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, considering that he gave “summit projection to the sea”, and pointed to the Oceans Conference as a “unique opportunity” for Portugal.

At the Pessoa Prize 2021 award ceremony at Culturgest, in Lisbon on Monday, Cavaco Silva also heard praise from the award recipient, maritime expert Tiago Pitta e Cunha, who argued that the former head of state was the one who “effectively normalised the sea in Portuguese political life”.


In his speech, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa praised Tiago Pitta e Cunha’s “constant, repeated missions dedicated to the sea and oceans, listening and awakening awareness” and noted that in June Portugal will host the United Nations Oceans Conference, which will take place in Lisbon.


According to the president, this event is a “unique opportunity” to demonstrate the “national vocation” of investing in the sea. “Why should we waste time in rediscovering our future?,” he asked.


Among several names of personalities who have dedicated themselves to this topic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa included that of his predecessor, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who was in attendance, of whom Tiago Pitta e Cunha was an advisor.


The president praised the work of Cavaco Silva as prime minister and as head of state, stating that “he knew how to grant, in the presedential palace in Belém as in the parliament in São Bento, summit projection to the sea, and still had the time and ingenuity to give shelter to this indomitable hurricane that is today’s prize-winner and, more than shelter, to give him a reinforced voice inside and outside”.


Next, spoke Tiago Pitta e Cunha, who said that Cavaco Silva “had the persistence” and also “the courage to bring the sea to the centre of political debates”, at a time when “it was still perceived in Portugal as a subject, if not esoteric, at least exotic”.

“I must also highlight the availability and attention I have always received from the current president of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and from the prime minister, António Costa. Thank you both very much,” added the award winner.


Tiago Pitta e Cunha is a member of the board of directors and director of the executive committee of the Oceano Azul Foundation, linked to the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation, which has the concession of the Lisbon Oceanarium.

The Pessoa Prize is an initiative of the Expresso newspaper, with the sponsorship of state-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos bank, currently worth 60 thousand euros. It has been awarded annually for 35 years to a Portuguese personality who has stood out in the cultural, literary, scientific, artistic or legal areas.


The ceremony was attended by the ministers of culture, Pedro Adão e Silva, and of the environment and climate action, Duarte Cordeiro, and the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas.