WEBINAR: The People We Need for the Ocean We Want - Launch of the Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme
On 8 July, the World Maritime University (WMU) - Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute hosted a public webinar, “The People We Need for the Ocean We Want - Launch of the Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme.” In collaboration with key partners, the webinar raised awareness of the need for gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women scientists across all actions under the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade). The event attracted well over 300 registrants from around the world.
Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, delivered the welcoming address noting that women have continually been undervalued and underrepresented in the various ocean sectors and activities, including most notably, in ocean science and ocean governance communities. “WMU’s Empowering Women Programme directly addresses current gender inequality in the context of both the generation and use of ocean science knowledge in the Ocean Decade. It aims to advance an alternative, inclusive model to enable more representative ocean science knowledge production. This will enable the delivery of policy outcomes for sustainable ocean governance to ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women of different ages and backgrounds at all levels,” she said.
Three of the primary researchers for the Empowering Women Programme briefly delivered their findings and work to date on the projects that are outlined in detail in the full Report. Dr Mariamalia Rodriguez Chaves, Post-doc Fellow for the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute presented her research on gender mainstreaming in ocean governance bodies and updates from her preliminary data collection. Ms Renis Auma Ojwala, WMU PhD Candidate, presented her research on gender equality in ocean science for sustainable development regarding an analysis of the ocean science institutions in Kenya. Ms Ellen Johannesen, WMU PhD Candidate, presented her work on understanding the role of gender in the practice of international marine science looking specifically at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) as a case study.
The Report 2021 for the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme was officially launched by Ms Rhea King, Executive Director, Science Programs, Ecosystems and Oceans Science for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She noted Canada is pleased to provide support for the WMU Empowering Women Programme, which she said “is generating the necessary knowledge and capacity that we need to advance progress on gender equality in ocean science.”
A roundtable discussion followed and was moderated by Dr Zhen Sun, Co-Principal Investigator for the Empowering Women Programme and Research Officer for the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute. Dr Wendy Watson Wright, Member and Gender Focal Point for the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) was the first roundtable speaker. She emphasized that diversity builds value and important actions for the Ocean Decade to support gender equality include reaching a broadened audience, gathering gender disaggregated data, and diversity oversight to ensure progress is being made.
In his remarks, Mr Michael Lodge, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, said, “It is very easy to pay lip service to gender equality, but much more difficult to identify and implement specific actions that will result in women’s empowerment and leadership.” He highlighted five key points in support of gender equality including 1) the need for internal and external strategies, 2) aligning actions with existing mandates, 3) the importance of analysis and research, 4) that practical measures do not necessarily have to cost money, and 5) the importance of building partnerships.
Mr Ariel Hernän Troisi, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was the final roundtable speaker. He pointed out that as shown in the Global Ocean Science Report 2020, female scientists are still under-represented in many categories of ocean science such as technology development and ocean observation. He remarked that although today women are reaching the upper echelons of leadership positions in ocean science, there is more work to do. “In this Decade we are not going to solve the problems, but we are going to set the baseline and construct our new relationship with the ocean,” he said, reiterating that success will depend on the participation of everyone, and we need to encourage that participation without any barriers.
Professor Ronan Long, Director of the WMU- Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, delivered closing remarks and emphasized the importance of ensuring gender equality as a central pillar of all Ocean Decade initiatives and highlighting important actions at individual, institutional, and governmental levels. Individual actions include advocacy and awareness as well as participation and support for pathways to empower women and to remove barriers to gender equality. Institutional actions include collecting disaggregated data and implementing gender-responsive policies that focus on measurable outcomes including reconciling work with family life regardless of gender. Governmental actions include gender equality provisions in international instruments, and ensuring effective women’s representation in decision-making bodies/senior leadership positions. Most importantly, Professor Long emphasized that gender equality is never an isolated aspect.
The webinar was a Satellite Activity of the First Ocean Decade Laboratory “An Inspiring and Engaging Ocean” that is taking place 7-8 July 2021. The Ocean Decade Laboratories are sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany in partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.
To watch the recorded webinar, click here.
About the DFO-WMU Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme
The Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme is generously funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) with additional support from The Nippon Foundation. The purpose of the Empowering Women Programme is to advance an alternative, inclusive model for the sustainable governance of ocean spaces and maritime activities that duly takes into account the need to ensure effective gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels in order to ensure the sustainable management of the global ocean. The Programme is endorsed by IOC-UNESCO as a Decade Action and will play a central role in supporting the Ocean Decade mission to catalyze transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development.
About the World Maritime University and WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute
The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The mission of WMU is to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research, while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development. WMU’s vision is to inspire leadership and innovation for a sustainable maritime and oceans future. WMU is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute was inaugurated in May 2018 and made possible through generous support from The Nippon Foundation of Japan, the Governments of Sweden, Canada, and Germany, as well as the City of Malmö. The vision of the Institute is to act as an independent focal point for the ocean science-policy-law-industry-society interface where policy makers, the scientific community, regulators, industry actors, academics, and representatives of civil society meet to discuss how best to manage and use ocean spaces and their resources in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
About the Ocean Decade Laboratories
The Ocean Decade Laboratories are a creative, interactive platform to support action for the Ocean Decade around the globe. They are a virtual catalyst of action for the Ocean Decade. There are Seven Laboratories taking place between July 2021 to May 2022. Each Laboratory focuses on one of the seven Outcomes of the Ocean Decade.
My decision to enroll in the doctoral program at WMU was heavily influenced by my prior experience as a Master's student at the institution. Initially introduced to me as a preeminent global institution for maritime education, WMU's stellar reputation was further substantiated by the exceptional quality of education I received during my Master’s studies. This experience became a compelling factor in my determination to return to WMU as a doctoral student. Recognizing the synergies between my research aspirations and the institutional offerings at WMU, I concluded that continuing my educational journey at this esteemed institution was not only beneficial but also aligned perfectly with my academic and professional goals.
My research explored the theoretical foundations of governance, placing a particular emphasis on maritime governance. Going beyond mere theoretical frameworks, the study conducted a comprehensive examination of a crucial aspect within maritime governance—specifically, the implementation of International Maritime Organization (IMO) instruments, exploring the contextual factors that affect the implementation process. Applying the grounded theory methodology, the research aimed to understand these theoretical underpinnings, as well as firmly anchor insights in the practical context of maritime governance; unveiling the intricacies and challenges associated with the effective implementation of IMO instruments in the maritime domain. The selection of this topic was motivated by a personal interest that was cultivated during my Master’s studies in maritime law and policy. Furthermore, it was driven by the recognition of a scarcity of scientific research on this specific topic. This gap in the existing body of knowledge served as a catalyst for my exploration, underscoring the significance of contributing valuable insights to an area of maritime governance that has been relatively underrepresented in scholarly research.
Undoubtedly, a highlight of my educational journey at WMU was the opportunity to forge connections with influential change-makers and thought leaders hailing from every corner of the globe. This invaluable chance to engage with individuals on an international scale has not only enabled me to expand my global network but has also served as a conduit for immersing myself in the rich tapestry of diverse cultures. Through these global interactions, I've gained a profound understanding of different perspectives, traditions, and approaches, contributing significantly to my personal and academic growth. This experience goes beyond mere networking and has also played a pivotal role in fostering stronger connections within the Caribbean region from which I hail.
Embarking on my professional path, my foremost aim is to establish myself as an authority in the field of maritime governance. I aspire to leave a significant and enduring mark on the global maritime landscape. Beyond the academic sphere, my drive is fuelled by a passionate interest in pursuing diverse opportunities within the maritime domain and the broader educational sector and contributing significantly to positive transformations in the global maritime sector.
I was primarily attracted to WMU for its prestigious standing as a global leader in maritime education and research. The institution's emphasis on sustainability and its diverse international student body were particularly appealing. My research, which focuses on the transition of ports toward low and near-zero carbon emissions, perfectly aligns with WMU's dedication to sustainable maritime practices. This common vision made WMU the ideal choice for advancing my academic and professional aspirations in the maritime industry.
A significant highlight of my time at WMU has been the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of experts and peers from various corners of the globe. This international environment has broadened my perspective on maritime issues and fostered a rich exchange of ideas. It has been a rewarding experience to engage in discussions, share insights, and work collectively toward innovative solutions to complex maritime challenges.
Post-graduation, I am committed to applying the knowledge and research expertise I've acquired at WMU to make a meaningful impact in the maritime sector. My plans involve actively contributing to the sustainable transformation of the industry by focusing on the implementation of greener and more efficient port operations. I aim to play a part in fostering a cleaner and more sustainable future for ports and shipping on a global scale.
The fact that the World Maritime University (WMU) is a global ocean institute of excellence piqued my initial interest. However, my decision to join the WMU team was solidified with the announcement of the Closing the Circle Scholarship. This incredible opportunity allowed me to study with a diverse team of ocean leaders and facilitated important research for the Wider Caribbean Region.
My research focused on spatiotemporal analyses of climate change driven sargassum blooms in the Tropical Atlantic. Since the onset of mass sargassum blooms in 2011, Caribbean countries have experienced multiscale negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Evidence suggests that influx events are driven by ocean eutrophication and climate change and are likely to continue into the foreseeable future leaving countries with no choice but to adapt to their new reality. Against this backdrop, the research assessed changes in the biodiversity, morphotype composition and arsenic content of incoming sargassum rafts and identified sustainable solutions/management interventions.
It is said that you cannot achieve anything entirely by yourself, this is especially true of a PhD. Thankfully, in a place so far from home, I was fortunate to have a team of strong, dependable, caring and intelligent Caribbean women to complete this journey with me. Sharing this incredible milestone with them has been without a doubt the most impactful and memorable part of my PhD journey at WMU.
After dedicating the last 3 years of my life to achieving one goal, I must admit that I've had a slight case of tunnel vision. Ideally I would like to continue in the world of research and academia, however, my unknown future is in the hands of the all-knowing God.
The Closing The Circle Programme: Marine Debris and Sargassum in the Eastern Caribbean drew me into the World Maritime University (WMU) as it was specifically aligned and tailored to my research interests and experiences and offered the flexibility for me to expand on ongoing research on the subject matter that I had already been working on. A highlight of studying at WMU has been building relationships within the university and maturing in my faith and academics.
My research assessed governance barriers facing Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their ability to equitably participate in the development of the global plastics treaty. I chose this topic because Caribbean SIDS are disproportionately affected by mass influxes of marine plastics to their coastlines and lack various capacity needs to address the issue. After graduation, I'll be continuing work through my non-profit organization, Bahamas Plastic Movement, and will employ aspects of my PhD research towards addressing the plastic pollution crisis in the Caribbean.
I was attracted to the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden simply due to the opportunity to research the transboundary challenges of marine litter in the Eastern Caribbean. My specific research focus on the Windward Islands allowed me to contribute solutions to a region I am deeply connected to.
Marine litter poses significant threats to Caribbean Small Island Developing States, affecting marine ecosystems, tourism, fisheries and other local economies, and the health of the communities. My choice to focus on this crisis was driven by the urgency to shed light on its magnitude, propose sustainable solutions, and advocate for more global efforts in addressing this pressing environmental issue.
Studying at WMU provided a multifaceted experience that extended beyond just academics, and there are two highlights worth mentioning to represent this. One, the amazing opportunity for intercultural exchange. I had the privilege of collaborating with researchers and experts from around the globe. This diverse gathering not only facilitated a unique learning environment but also opened doors to share varied perspectives. This exchange was instrumental to my research and learning process and enriched my career path. I found myself collaborating with and even speaking alongside some of the most respected experts in the field on renowned panels. Two, is a particularly exhilarating experience which was representing the university in the UN interagency games in 2022. I was honored to be a part of the first women's team from WMU. Against expectations, I managed to place third in my backstroke category, even though it was my first time participating in competitive swimming. Our team's dedication and hard work culminated in a podium finish, as we secured third place overall.
Post-graduation, my professional trajectory, initially aimed singularly at university teaching in Grenada, has evolved to include curricula development on marine conservation topics at various educational levels, aspiring to inspire the next generation. While my zeal for academia remains steadfast, my aspirations have broadened to encompass policy advocacy. My research, highlighting the striking linkages between marine litter and the overarching climate crisis, has fortified my resolve to employ these insights toward tangible change. Now, as I pivot towards a more policy-oriented role, I aim to work collaboratively with policymakers. My focus will be on underlining the Caribbean's unique environmental challenges, advocating for climate compensation, and concurrently influencing educational approaches on marine issues.
I was attracted to the World Maritime University by the “Closing the Circle Programme”, the aims of which matched my interests, experience and expertise. The programme was co-designed with Eastern Caribbean leaders and focused on marine environmental challenges with a global reach but a regional focus. This was an important element for me as it provided an opportunity to contribute to research which had the potential to deliver meaningful research impact beyond academia. WMU has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The staff and faculty are experienced and very helpful. It has also been an extremely gratifying experience to collaborate with and learn from my colleagues from all over the world.
My research focused on abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), also called derelict fishing gear, in the context of Eastern Caribbean small-scale fisheries. The main aim of the thesis was to understand the barriers to effective governance of the challenge, with a view to identifying mechanisms for overcoming these. The research was undertaken through a three-pronged approach focused first on identifying the nature of the challenge in the Eastern Caribbean, followed by outlining challenges to governance and finally proposing recommendations for improvement.
My immediate plans after graduation are to return to Antigua and to my previous job at the Fisheries Division where I can, hopefully, continue to work on researching this topic. In the long term, my hope is to transition to academia.
I chose the World Maritime University for my PhD studies in Maritime Affairs because of several reasons, including its academic reputation and strong postgraduate degrees in maritime and ocean science-related programmes, a range of international modules, and the diverse group of students and faculty members. WMU is in Sweden, one of the EU countries with the best gender equality ranking worldwide. As a woman in marine science who faced several challenges in the industry, I was mainly attracted to the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development programme offered at the university. This unique programme aims to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in ocean science to increase women’s participation in ocean science and advance the sustainable management and governance of ocean spaces and maritime activities at all levels through capacity building.
My research topic focused on evaluating gender equality in ocean science for Sustainable development in Kenya. The primary aim of this study was to examine gender equality in ocean science institutions in Kenya, using the existing institutional gender policies, gender-disaggregated data of students and staff, the experiences and barriers faced by students and staff in this field as well as the good practices that the institutions already have to promote gender equality. The issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment are generally relevant for ocean governance because they bring diverse perspectives, skills and solutions to management and sustainability. I chose this research topic to understand the root causes of gender inequalities and persistent biases in the ocean science sector to make invisible voices and contributions of women in ocean science visible and to ensure women or marginalized groups are included in decision-making and policy-making processes as the primary users of marine resources.
I have had a fantastic journey and an incredible and rewarding experience at WMU. Studying here came with many blessings and was one of the best decisions I have ever made. First, my supervisors were resourceful, outstanding and very supportive, who dedicated their time to mentor and guide my research work. Their guidance, advice, motivation, kindness, understanding and support were instrumental and helped me achieve my academic goals to reach where I am today. Second, the university has a strong family bond, is well-organized, and embraces teamwork, and I received immense support from the GOI and WMU secretariat. Also, I managed to interact with many students from different nationalities, exchanged ideas and discovered/learned a lot of things from the various cultures, especially during the annual celebration of the WMU International Day, made new friends from around the world, expanded my network and immensely improved my global view.
After graduation, I plan to expand my network and find a job that includes both academic and practice-oriented research to continue advocating for gender equality in ocean science. Also, I plan to develop a policy brief for the ocean science institutions in Kenya as a guide for promoting gender equality in ocean science both in higher education and employing agencies. My natural science background will also open doors to explore and work in freshwater and marine environments.
It had always been exciting for me to pursue research on maritime law affairs in a well-known maritime institute. To that end, the World Maritime University (WMU) appeared the best choice. Undoubtedly, the academic community and cordial non-academic staff have made WMU not only a great university for studying but also a pleasant place for living.
My research interest lies in the recognition of the effects of foreign judicial sales of ships, more precisely, the recognition of the purchaser’s title obtained in a judicial sale. This is essential to the realization of claims on a ship, which to a large degree depends on a sale obtaining a market price of the ship. Without the prospect that a judicial sale will finalize with a title binding everyone, potential bidders would probably not offer such a price. Against this backdrop, an international convention has been concluded to bridge the gap in the protection for purchasers in judicial sales. Considering the importance of the role shipping plays in international trade as well as the high value of ships as assets, I find this topic worth exploring.
A highlight of studying at WMU was the celebration dinner after my defense. The cheering card on the table, the tasty food, and most importantly the people who had supported me all the way sitting around me that very day, made an unforgettable and joyful end to the four-years’ journey. I still and will always remember that touching moment.
My plan now is to continue my journey in the legal world. After graduation, I will be a postdoc and teacher in law at a high education institution, sharing and using what I have learned at WMU.
When I made the decision to embark on the journey of pursuing both my MSc and PhD degrees, the World Maritime University (WMU) beckoned me for several compelling reasons. Foremost among these was WMU's sterling reputation as a world-class institution within the maritime sphere, a factor that wielded significant influence over my choice. Given my extensive background as a senior professional in the maritime operational field, having held the role of a captain, I was in search of an academic environment that could serve as a nexus for both enriching my knowledge and providing a platform for the dissemination of my wealth of industry experience.
WMU's unwavering commitment to maritime education, coupled with its resolute emphasis on bridging the realms of academia and industry, deeply resonated with me. It became evident that WMU was the perfect crucible for my transformation from a career entrenched in maritime operations to one flourishing within academia. The University's storied tradition of nurturing and producing experts and leaders within the maritime sector further solidified its standing as the ideal choice for my educational pursuits.Furthermore, WMU's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to maritime studies served as an irresistible attraction.
My research focus during my tenure at WMU was centered on the pivotal subject of achieving net-zero emissions in the maritime sector, encompassing both offshore and onshore infrastructures, including ports and shipyards. This particular research avenue held great appeal for me due to its unique capacity to amalgamate my extensive practical experience as a captain within the maritime operational field with the rigorous academic environment provided by WMU. The maritime industry is inherently dynamic, constantly undergoing transformative changes, and I was deeply convinced that my research endeavors could significantly contribute to enhancing sustainability within this vital sector. The prospect of influencing positive change by addressing contemporary challenges and emerging trends in the maritime industry, all closely aligned with my professional background, served as a compelling motivation for my choice of research focus.
One of the most memorable aspects of my WMU experience has undoubtedly been the University's vibrant and inclusive interdisciplinary environment. Engaging with both faculty members and fellow students hailing from diverse backgrounds and nationalities has been an incredibly enriching facet of my academic journey. This inclusive atmosphere has offered me a unique opportunity to gain fresh insights and perspectives that would have remained undiscovered within the confines of a purely industry-focused setting. The collaborative exchange of ideas across various maritime disciplines has proven to be invaluable, expanding my horizons and enriching my educational experience. Additionally, the regular involvement in thoughtful discussions, seminars, and workshops focused on globally relevant maritime topics has served as a consistent source of inspiration throughout my time at WMU. The University’s unwavering dedication to cultivating a global network of maritime experts has allowed me to establish meaningful connections with professionals and scholars from across the world. These connections have not only broadened my academic horizons but have also added a global dimension to my educational journey, enhancing its depth and significance.
Upon graduation, I was awarded a prestigious research fellowship in sustainability, energy, and the pursuit of net-zero emissions within the maritime industry at the esteemed University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. This exciting opportunity marks the next phase of my academic and maritime journey. I remain passionately committed to continuing my exploration of academia and the maritime sector, building upon the invaluable knowledge and experience I acquired during my time at WMU. My primary objective is to contribute significantly to the advancement of the zero-emission maritime industry, a pivotal and transformative sector within our global community.