WMU Delivers Blue Economy High-Level Engagement and Marine Spatial Training for the Eastern Caribbean Region

From 3-5 April, the World Maritime University’s WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute convened a workshop in St. Lucia on Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) that was followed by a High-Level Roundtable Event. In addition,  a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the World Maritime University (WMU) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The workshop was delivered within the framework of the “Closing the Circle" Programme: Marine Debris, Sargassum and Marine Spatial Planning, generously funded by The Nippon Foundation.

The MSP training event on Blue Planning in Practice was attended by the OECS Ocean Governance Team (OGT) which is comprised of designated high-level technical officers of the governments of the member States, who serve as focal points to work closely with the OECS Commission to support the implementation of the OECS Sustainable Ocean Management (SOM) Programme. Observers from the OECS member States, as well as general stakeholders, were also in attendance. In preparation for the in-person event, the participants and observers attended four, half-day online workshop sessions which provided a comprehensive knowledge base for the in-person workshop component. The elements of the training incorporated the various steps of a plan-making process, plan implementation, legal dimensions of MSP as well as sessions on Blue Leadership. Focus was placed on active discussions and activities which were framed by lectures. In closing the workshop, WMU President, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry remarked that: “Among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) across the world, experts from the Caribbean are leaders in the development of MSP and I hope that this event will guide the next steps in operationalizing the plans you already have in place or will develop shortly.”  

Following the workshop, the WMU and OECS Roundtable Event brought together Ministers and senior government officials to discuss the topic of “Transitioning to a Model Blue Economy Region – Engagement, Acceleration, Impact”. Panel speakers included: the Honorable Minister Quincia Gumbs Marie (Anguilla), Honorable Minister Jullan Defoe (Dominica), Honorable Minister Adrain A. Thomas (Grenada), Honorable Minister Shawn Edward, (Saint Lucia), Honorable Minister Carlos James (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Honorable High Commissioner Karen Mae Hill, Ambassador to the UK for Antigua & Barbuda, and Ms. Camilla Rossaak from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. WMU was represented by President Doumbia-Henry and Professor Ronán Long, Director of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute. 

In her address, President Doumbia-Henry remarked that WMU is a dedicated centre of excellence for research and education on blue economy approaches. She highlighted the awareness of living in nature in the region, which underpins the on-going stellar approaches undertaken within the OECS. Professor Ronán Long stated that the Eastern Caribbean region has leaders with a fantastic range of legal and technical skills. Moreover, that WMU is looking forward to the next phase of collaboration with the OECS. 

The Event closed with President Doumbia-Henry and H.E. Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS signing of an MoU between the two organizations.. Through the MoU, the partners commit to working together to develop and promote educational programmes on sustainable ocean governance. The collaboration also aims to create a network of educators, researchers, and students who can share knowledge and best practices, as well as collaborate on innovative approaches to ocean governance.

About the World Maritime University

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 is an organization by and for the international maritime community and is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

About the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

The WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute was inaugurated in May 2018 and is an independent focal point working at the interdisciplinary interface between science, industry, policy, ocean governance and law. Faculty, staff and students at the Institute undertake challenge-led and evidence-based research, as well as educational and capacity-building training, with a particular focus on the implementation of Goal 14, Life Below Water, as well as multiple interconnecting goals among others such as Goal 5 concerning Gender Equality, and Goal 13 on Climate Action under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For this purpose, the Institute efforts are contributing to international processes such as the development of an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), the United Nations World Ocean Assessment as well as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) as an endorsed Ocean Decade Action. The work programme is focused on a broad range of initiatives including: Land-to-Ocean leadership; the empowerment of women in ocean science for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development; marine debris, sargassum and marine spatial planning in the Eastern Caribbean, as well as robotics and automation in an ocean and maritime industry context. These initiatives are supported by The Nippon Foundation of Japan, Sweden, Germany, Canada, the European Commission and the City of Malmö. Learn more about the Institute on https://www.wmu.se/goi 

About the Closing the Circle Programme

The "Closing the Circle" Programme: Marine Debris, Sargassum and Marine Spatial Planning, is hosted at the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute with the generous funding by The Nippon Foundation. The programme team consists of the Project Principal Investigators, a Research Fellow and 4 PhD candidates whose research on respective projects explore challenges and advance potential solutions to marine debris, sargassum threats and marine spatial planning (MSP) in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with a particular focus on the Eastern Caribbean region. The Region is facing a mounting problem from vast beach strandings of the normally oceanic seaweed Sargassum. The combination of marine debris and Sargassum seaweed is resulting in an untold ecological impact and socioeconomic hardship for these SIDS that are highly dependent on tourism. Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged as a new approach to holistically plan and manage ocean space and resources. 

Learn more about the Closing the Circle programme on https://closing-the-circle.wmu.se/ 

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