Alongside the 70th anniversary of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in 2018, the World Maritime University (WMU) is celebrating 35 years. WMU has made a major contribution to global maritime education, research and capacity building. In this respect its legacy has been transformative with its extensive network of leaders in the maritime and ocean sectors, with 4,654 WMU alumni from 167 countries to date.
In the early 1980s, the IMO identified a shortage of well-qualified, highly educated maritime experts, particularly in developing countries. In order to support member States with high-caliber education in the maritime field, WMU was officially established by the IMO on 1 May 1983 and inaugurated on 4 July 1983, with the financial support of the Swedish government, the City of Malmö, the United Nations Development Programme and private donations.
The establishment of WMU represented a major transformation in maritime education and capacity-building. Today, WMU graduates are to be found in all parts of the maritime and port industries, representing their countries at the IMO, and running maritime academies. Some have occupied positions as Prime Minister, government ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors, representatives of their countries at the IMO, presidents of maritime academies, while many others hold senior positions in their maritime and port administrations, as senior surveyors and in shipping companies, to name but a few. The current Secretary-General of the IMO and WMU Chancellor, Mr Kitack Lim, is a 1991 graduate of the University. This unique cadre of experts – a unique brand - has passed the skills and values they absorbed onto others and continue to do so.
Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization and WMU Chancellor, in marking WMU 35th anniversary stated: “WMU’s work is indispensable for ensuring smooth and effective implementation and enforcement of IMO’s shipping regulations. The University equipped generations of maritime leaders with the necessary skills to take on this important responsibility. WMU’s 35th anniversary is a celebration of those 4,654 men and women who graduated from the University and went on to make an incredibly beneficial impact on shipping felt by all those who rely on the industry.”
WMU’s President, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, in marking this milestone stated: “As WMU celebrates its 35thAnniversary, we applaud IMO for its vision when in 1983 it established this truly remarkable academic institution – a university for the world, dedicated to advance maritime education and research. We can look back with pride at its achievements, impact and its tremendous success as a unique international academic institution of the UN system. We are grateful for the support of our many donors throughout the history of WMU. As we look ahead, we will continue to enhance our education, research and capacity-building programmes to serve the needs of the maritime and wider ocean community, taking into account the impact of technology, innovation, regulatory developments and the importance of delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
The University serves IMO and its mission, offering stakeholders unrivalled access to a global network of experts, knowledge and capacity-building while supporting governments, organizations and the industry worldwide. WMU is unique in combining and delivering maritime and ocean-related education, knowledge and expertise to support the continued development and growth of the maritime and ocean industries as well as the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to seven specializations available within the Malmö MSc programme, there are MSc programmes in Shanghai and Dalian, China; a joint Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) programme in International Maritime Law and Ocean Policy offered in cooperation with the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI); and a flexible PhD programme. Distance learning is available with several postgraduate diploma programmes and an LLM. In addition, WMU utilizes its extensive network of international maritime experts to deliver customized executive development courses at locations worldwide.
WMU has played an effective role in the sharing and transfer of technology from developed to developing countries, with a view to promoting the achievement of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety and security, efficiency of international shipping, the prevention and control of marine pollution, including air pollution from ships, and other marine and related ocean issues. Research is integral to achieving WMU’s mission while exploring the interconnected nature of the maritime industry, international rule of law and the effect on the environment and the oceans. An example of WMU’s innovative work is the MarTID global maritime training insights database that was released in May 2018. The MarTID database is a historic initiative to study global maritime training practices by providing a global picture of maritime training that is not currently available, offering the global maritime community data on current and emerging training trends and techniques, staffing models, training focus areas, training tools, training resource allocation and assessment practices.
Closing the maritime industry gender and skills gap is a priority for the University. Until the late 1990s, female students made up less than 5% of the Malmö student body. A recruitment strategy with strong support from fellowship donors has resulted in the proportion of female students rising to around a third of the annual enrolment. In addition, almost a quarter of WMU faculty today are female.
During this 35th anniversary year, WMU officially inaugurated the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (Global Ocean Institute) on 8 May. The new Institute will act as an independent focal point for ocean-related dialogue and capacity-building. The celebrations were marked by a gathering of distinguished speakers and invitees from around the globe. The official ribbon cutting for the Institute, which is located next to the WMU headquarters, was done by IMO Secretary-General Lim, Ms. Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, and WMU President Doumbia-Henry.
The Global Ocean Institute is founded on the vision to bring to life a convergence platform where policy makers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society can meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources for the sustainable development of present and future generations. The Global Ocean Institute has benefitted from the generous support of The Nippon Foundation, the Governments of Sweden, the City of Malmö and Canada. The Institute will complement the IMO’s current and future engagement in the broader sphere of ocean governance, building important bridges between the maritime and ocean sectors.
Representing the host country of Sweden, Ms. Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, remarked on Sweden’s support for UN SDG 14 and that Sweden is proud to host the University. ”With the new Global Ocean Institute, the World Maritime University will not only continue to be a center of excellence in maritime and ocean education, training and research but also a hub and meeting place bringing people and knowledge from policy, industry, academia, law and civil society together to contribute to the implementation of SDG 14 and the broader 2030 Agenda. I’m proud that Sweden hosts these institutions,” she stated.
Immediately following the inauguration, from 8 to 9 May, the WMU Global Ocean Conference 2018 took place with over 240 participants from more than 50 countries. The outcomes of the conference will inform the priorities for the Global Ocean Institute, as well as strategies to ensure active engagement between stakeholders and the new Institute.
Discussions focused on building transformative partnerships for ocean sustainability and improving ocean governance generally. Opportunities and challenges were identified within the themes of Ocean Economy, Science & Technology, UN System Bodies, Ocean Industry, Regional and National Issues, and Civil Society. Representatives of international organizations, governments, ocean industries, research communities, civil society and academic institutions contributed to the discussions. Contemporary and emerging threats and issues faced by the world’s oceans and marine sectors were addressed as well as ways to build transformative partnerships to deliver the ocean-related goals under the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
At the UN Ocean Conference in June last year, WMU registered a commitment that aims to contribute to the implementation of Goal 14 by training a new generation of maritime leaders through the delivery of specialist post-graduate educational programmes in Ocean Sustainability, Governance and Management, as well as through cutting-edge oceans research, among others. The Global Ocean Institute and the WMU Global Ocean Conference 2018 are concrete responses to that commitment. The Institute’s impact-oriented research will help bridge the sectoral divide in ocean affairs and inform a forward-looking dialogue among representatives of governments, ocean industries, research communities, civil society and other academic institutions.
As part of the United Nations system, WMU is the embodiment of the principle that education is the engine for economic growth, builds capacity for developing countries, promotes social justice and inclusive societies. With a holistic approach to education, raising the competency of the sector and providing research that contributes to the development of responsible shipping practices and operations as well as ocean governance, WMU is working towards a more sustainable future for the maritime industry and for our ocean.