Alongside the 70th anniversary of the 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, 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 May 1,1983 and inaugurated on July 4, 1983, with the financial support of the Swedish government, the City of Malmö, the United Nations Development Program and private donations.
The establishment of WMU represented a major transformation in maritime education and capacity-building. Today, WMU graduates can be found in all parts of the maritime and port industries. 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, Kitack Lim, is a 1991 graduate of the University. “WMU’s work is indispensable for ensuring smooth and effective implementation and enforcement of IMO’s shipping regulations,” said Lim. “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 35th anniversary, 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 programs 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.”
In addition to seven specializations available within the Malmö MSc program, there are MSc programs in Shanghai and Dalian, China; a joint Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) program in International Maritime Law and Ocean Policy offered in cooperation with the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI); and a flexible PhD program. Distance learning is available with several postgraduate diploma programs 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 a key 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.
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 five percent 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 enrollment. In addition, almost a quarter of WMU faculty today are female.
The WMU officially inaugurated the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute (Global Ocean Institute) on May 8. The new Institute will act as an independent focal point for ocean-related dialogue and capacity-building. The Global Ocean Institute aims 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 benefited 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.
Immediately following the inauguration, from May 8-9, the WMU Global Ocean Conference 2018 took place with over 240 participants from more than 50 countries. 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 U.N. 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 programs in Ocean Sustainability, Governance and Management as well as through cutting-edge oceans research.
WMU is the embodiment of the principle that education is the engine for economic growth, builds capacity for developing countries and promotes social justice and inclusive societies.