WMU Marks 40 Year Anniversary

From 20-22 June, the World Maritime University (WMU), hosted the WMU@40 Conference on Maritime and Ocean Sustainability. The inspirational event was held in celebration of the University’s 40th anniversary and brought together high level speakers, guests and participants from around the world, many of whom are WMU alumni, to mark four decades of achievement in capacity-building, education and research in service of the maritime community. 

Opening remarks were delivered by WMU Chancellor, HE Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), who is a graduate of the University. He spoke of the profound impact WMU has on its graduates, not only in terms of academics, but also regarding the personal connections made. Further, he highlighted that numerous WMU alumni play important roles in delegations to the IMO, representing their countries, as well as many who serve in the IMO Secretariat, and the thousand of others contributing to the wider maritime sector.

“The mighty international network of WMU graduates is a great force for good in the world. Those who continue to work as experts for the benefit of the international maritime community will help ensure that our beautiful ocean is passed on to future generations,” said Mr Lim. He also thanked the Government of Sweden and the host city of Malmö for their unwavering support to the University, as well as the many donors across the decades.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU stated that WMU has retained the same meaning for students over the past 40 years, meaning that it offers “a matchless forum for meeting other maritime professionals from around the world, exchanging ideas, offering inspiration and understanding common issues through the prism of a new approach.” She highlighted the important role we all have to play, but particularly WMU graduates, in ensuring a sustainable future for humanity and our planet. “From both a selfish and a philanthropic viewpoint, we must all act now, act fast and act together to achieve sustainability,” said President Doumbia-Henry.

A special award was made to the Government of Sweden in recognition of extraordinary efforts to encourage the University’s establishment in 1983. The Government has provided ongoing financial support as well as support through the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure – and its various agencies such as the Migration Agency and the Taxation Agency, both of which continually find ways of accommodating the staff and students of the University. Further, the Swedish Higher Education Authority accredited the WMU Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy programmes in January 2022, which required an act of Parliament to accomplish. The award was accepted by Mr Johan Davidson, State Secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing for the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure.

A special award was also made to The Nippon Foundation of Japan for their long-term support of the University. In addition to providing more than 30 students Fellowships each year, the Foundation  supports the capacity building mission of WMU by substantially funding the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, as well as funding faculty positions including five Professorial Chairs, and countless support to WMU conferences and events. The award was accepted by Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation.

Expert speakers from key agencies and institutions, many of whom are WMU alumni, contributed to the programme, addressing their specific topics of discussion as well as commending the University on four successful decades of education and research in support of sustainable development and capacity building. Topics of discussion included transitioning to zero emission shipping, focusing on working conditions, promoting collaboration, sustainable performance and fostering innovation, transparency and accountability, and protecting the oceans beyond national jurisdiction. 

The final day of the conference focused on alumni with presentations by various regional and national alumni associations. The alumni speakers provided updates on the activities of their respective associations, and resoundingly emphasized the invaluable nature of the WMU alumni network to the work being carried out in support of the maritime and ocean community within their countries, regions and globally. At the close of the day, the national alumni association of the Philippines presented a 6,000USD donation to the University on behalf of their association. The gift was presented to Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, and Professor Max Mejia, President Designate, who is from the Philippines. 

President Doumbia-Henry delivered closing remarks to the conference. As her tenure as President concludes on 28 June, she spoke of her affection for WMU, and the unique privilege of leading the University for the past 8 years, as a cherished highlight of her career. She said, “WMU has performed, and continues to perform a very valuable function. A function that impacts knowledge, carries out cutting edge research, but perhaps most importantly, creates a strong and enduring network of maritime and ocean professionals that benefit the people of the world.”

The Conference was generously sponsored by the International Maritime Organization, the TK Foundation, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.

Recordings of the conference can be found here: day one, day two, day three.

For a full album of photos from the conference, click here.

To view the WMU 40th anniversary slideshow with historic photos, click here.

About the World Maritime University

The World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden is established within the framework of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 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.

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