Connecting Education, Ports and People – Nassau, Bahamas
President Doumbia-Henry delivered the Keynote opening address of the Maritime Conference Bahamas 2017 that took place in Nassau from 18 to 20 October in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Education. The theme of the Conference was Connecting Education, Ports and People.
The event brought together maritime stakeholders to address the vital role of education in addressing the critical issues affecting the sector such as navigational safety, security and efficiency of shipping transportation and port operations and associated policies and procedures.
In her remarks, Dr. Doumbia-Henry linked the theme of the Conference with the IMO World Maritime Day 2017 theme: Connecting Ships, Ports and People. She referred to the significant role of shipping and ports in helping to create conditions for increased prosperity and stability through promoting maritime trade, noting that port and shipping sectors are wealth creators. She highlighted the often-unseen roles of people – seafarers and port workers - who are indispensable to the maritime and port cluster and enable the goods and products we depend on to reach us wherever we are.
With a focus on education, she stated: “While we must take into account the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the rapidly changing technological landscape and the globalization of the use of technology as well as security concerns, it has become even more important for maritime education and training institutions to impart knowledge, skills and the right attitudes to develop global maritime personnel who embrace the sustainability agenda, innovation in keeping with fundamental human values and who ethically use technology to advance global goals.”
President Doumbia-Henry highlighted the remarkable rate of port development in recent decades that has been mainly driven by international trade and containerization. As ports have developed, people in port regions have become aware of their environmental impact, and the new focus on green ports. The greening of ports, she said, could therefore be used as a development tool to generate new business in ports.
She emphasized that, “Maritime education and training, and indeed all education, have a critical role to play in making the current generation and ones to come, appreciate – not only cognitively, but also affectively – the importance of good stewardship of the environment in which ships and ports operate.” She referred to those who are being trained today and in the future and who will be working in shipping and ports. They will need to take into account the important role that technology, security and issues of sustainability are playing and they will need new skills. “With the impact of technology, smarter ships will require smarter people and education and training will need to adapt to ensure that seafarers and port workers have the new skills and knowledge they will need tomorrow. It will also require behavioral and cultural changes moving from command and control,” she concluded.
The conference was hosted by LJM Maritime Academy, a tertiary level institution offering education and training for seafarers. The Bahamas is one of the most important shipping nations in the world, not only as a flag State but also as a labour supplying country. It is ranked seventh, among States with the largest registered fleet, by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its “Review of Maritime Transport, 2016”.