Honoring the Life and Legacy of President Mikhail Gorbachev

September 6, 2022


I am sorry to learn of the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the Soviet Union and President of Green Cross International. I met and worked with President Gorbachev through Green Cross International where I serve as Chairman of the Board of Green Cross France and Honorary Board member of Green Cross International. It was a great honor and privilege to work with President Mikhail Gorbachev and to spend quality personal time together. He was a global humanitarian for global peace.

I also sat down to interview President Mikhail Gorbachev as part of my documentary, My Father the Captain -Jacques-Yves Cousteau. I asked him about what impact my father had on his thinking and decision making. You can watch this interview here and read the transcript of the full interview below:

Thank you, President Gorbachev for all your environmental and humanitarian work to help make the planet a better place. With his passing, we all need to continue to work to together to protect the ocean and our planet for the quality of our lives and for future generations. Thank you all for your interest and support. When you protect the ocean, you protect yourself!

Oceans of regards,


Jean-Michel Cousteau, President Ocean Futures Society
"Protect The Ocean And You Protect Yourself” — Jean-Michel Cousteau


Transcript of my interview with President Mikhail Gorbachev

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Thank you very much for taking the time. My father is going to be 100-year anniversary on the eleventh of June. It’s very, very important because he has opened the ocean to all of us. I want to know from your point of view Mr. President what, during your career, what impact do you think has Captain Cousteau has had on your thinking on your decision making?

Mikhail Gorbachev: Ah, well its sometimes seems to me that I have known him for 100 years. It’s very difficult to image a person who has, who knows nothing about Captain Cousteau. He was a person who was the first to show to all of us, not just to say something very important, but to show in images that are a lot more striking than just words. The planet, the seas in particular and I think I am very grateful to him and we should all be very grateful to him for what he did because he showed to us the beauty of our planet and the need to respect it, to respect all that lives on this planet.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Do you believe that…

Mikhail Gorbachev: And you’re a lucky man to have been born into a family like this, with a father like this.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: I am. Definitely. I feel very, very privileged. But in those days because I was there at the beginning and for me it was preaching in the desert. Nobody was listening. And what we are talking about now and the risk that we are facing with the ocean and the way we treat the ocean, he was talking about that 30 years ago. Are we making progress?

Mikhail Gorbachev: You must be proud of your father because I think its because of him, because of people like him that today perhaps not all leaders, but certainly more and more people are aware of the kind of situation that we are facing with nature, with the environment. A little before he was born the population of the world was 1.5 billion people, now its 6.5 billion people and we’ve brought nature to a point when forests are ill, when the rivers are ill, and suddenly the oceans are ill. When the whole planet is ill and I think that without this striking imagery without all that he did probably we wouldn’t have been able to come to this awareness of the conflict between man and nature and of the need to act to resolve that conflict.

Mikhail Gorbachev: And suddenly he was followed by others and as a result of this I think there is a great movement that we are seeing. The movement to change the situation, to protect the environment and perhaps if you say that we are acting to late I might agree with that but still he of all people did all he could in order to change that, in order to alert people to the need to save the planet.

Mikhail Gorbachev: And you know better than I do what the oceans mean that its water and of course 90 percent of the human body is water but even more importantly it’s the source of life, it’s the source of fish, of plankton and the climate depends on the state of the ocean. All of that we now understand.

Mikhail Gorbachev: You’ll be surprised if I tell you when was the first time that I saw the ocean, of course I had heard a lot about the oceans. I read about the oceans in school and college and later but the first time I really had a chance to stand on the coast of an ocean was when I was a grown man and I was already a member of Brezhnev’s central committee and I was in Portugal on a visit and I said, you now what let me leave you for a moment because I want to go. I want to go to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and to see it for the first time and that was my very first opportunity. So, compare with you, with a person who probably lived most of your life in the ocean.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Well as a decision maker you made a major decision together with President Reagan to take the Berlin Wall, you took action. What would you say or what do you recommend we do to take action today in the face of the pressure that we have and the fact that we are literally destroying our life support system and ultimately ourselves?

Mikhail Gorbachev: So I would like to say something meaningful because a lot of words have been said about this. We really need action and the action we need should be based above all on the understanding that we cannot save our planet if we continue with the conflicts and wars and confrontations that still exist. So we need above all peace and cooperation. And I think that it also calls for a new kind of political leader. I think it took us some doing some effort to bring those political leaders to Copenhagen but even there they did not achieve much so we must continue pressure. We must continue to act strongly in order to change their mindset, in order to achieve real action.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: This would be my last question. What would the President do today to make a difference?

Mikhail Gorbachev: Two things. First of all we need better global governance and secondly we need specific actions to help the most vulnerable people. It’s the poor people who suffer the most from the effects of climate change and their situation and it’s the situation of almost half of mankind is really quite dire. So, we need action to help them. Instead, we have had mostly words and declarations. We’ve had too many words and too many declarations and not enough action. Even the millennium development goals that were signed by all the leaders of the world’s countries, even they after five years very little progress, ten years probably very little progress. So, we need action and we need political leaders to understand that if they think only about their countries then nothing will be achieved. John F Kennedy said that those who think that the world of the future will be apex Americana are wrong that either he said that we are going to have a peace for all or we are not going to have any peace at all. And those words I think are really prophetic.

Mikhail Gorbachev: But there are no simple answers.

Mikhail Gorbachev: And even though there are no simple answers it doesn’t mean that we can just sit on the bench, sit on the fence without doing anything specific. Those leaders who have the trust of their nations must act and they must understand that it’s not a matter of winning the next election there is something a lot more important at stake.

Mikhail Gorbachev: And I think that 100th anniversary of your father is an excellent opportunity to once again try to awaken the people. He did he awakened the people, he showed the world to the people so it’s a good moment to remind them again.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Thank you. Thank you very much.