World Maritime University Graduation Ceremony
2 December 2012
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Excellencies, Secretary-General Emeritus, Chairman of Malmo City Executive Board, Honorary Guests, Ladies and gentlemen, graduates,
I am very pleased to be with you here today, and to be able to share with you what I know will be one of the highlights of your careers so far – the day that you graduate from the World Maritime University.
There are few things in life as precious or as valuable as knowledge and understanding, and possibly no better way to spend part of your formative years than in education.
The World Maritime University here in Malmö is a truly global centre of excellence for postgraduate maritime education. Through education, research and capacity building, it serves the global maritime community and is of enormous value to IMO in its quest to promote safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.
The influence of the World Maritime University within today’s maritime community cannot be overstressed. Those who pass through its various programmes go on to become global maritime leaders, experts and professionals. They increase and enhance the capacity of their countries and help to shape and develop effective policies for the maritime community on both the national and the global level.
And, through the increasingly important and substantial research work that it undertakes, the World Maritime University also helps shipping and the wider maritime community play its part towards the development of sustainable growth for the future, something with which I have a very strong personal association.
Those of you who are graduating today will be joining a band of alumni that is growing both in number and influence. The total of WMU alumni is now rapidly approaching 3,500, from more than 160 different countries. This number is now increasing by around 200 each year, bolstered by the significant influx from the University’s campuses at Dalian and Shanghai, in China. For 2012, those numbers are expected to be increased by 101 graduates from the Malmö MSc programme, 1 PhD, 64 graduates of the Chinese programmes, plus around 75 from the Lund LLM and the Postgraduate Diploma in marine insurance.
The alumni maintain close links, creating a unique maritime global network. Graduates hold key posts in maritime education, Governments, maritime administrations, ports and shipping companies, and many of them represent their Governments and their countries in a variety of international fora, including IMO.
However, the University would not be able to function without the financial support of a very dedicated core group of donors, who, despite current budgetary constraints worldwide and, consequently, understandable competing priorities, have unfailingly demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, their commitment to it and their faith in its mission. The list of all those who have assisted the University, and continue doing so, is a long one, and I would like to take this opportunity to, once again, express my gratitude to all parties concerned – Governments and organizations alike. There are, however, a few who, more than others, deserve this public acknowledgement and expression of appreciation.
Pride of place, as always, goes to the Government of Sweden, which steadfastly supports the University in many ways – in kind and morally; not to mention its financial support in providing up to one-third of its annual budget. Without Sweden’s steady stream of support, it is questionable how, in these difficult times, the University would be able to survive.
The City of Malmö has continually stood by the University and its provision of studying and hostel facilities, at considerable cost, has earned it a high esteem among all parties concerned – the students, in particular, who so much enjoy their stay in this beautiful town.
Of the rest of the donors I wish to mention, in particular, the Ocean Policy Research Foundation and the Nippon Foundation of Japan, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the TK Foundation, the Governments of Canada, the Republic of Korea, and Germany, the EU's SAFEMED project, and from industry, Inmarsat Ltd., the American Bureau of Shipping, BP Shipping, Gard AS of Norway, and the WNTI.
I would also like to pay tribute to the investment in WMU's educational offering by the Government of Nigeria; 17 students in this Malmö graduating class are from Nigeria, and are sponsored by a range of Governmental authorities.
Ladies and gentlemen, it would be remiss of me not to mention that, in 2014, WMU will relocate to a splendid new building, one that will provide its future students, faculty, researchers, staff and visitors with the opportunity to work and learn in genuinely state-of-the-art academic facilities. Thanks to the generosity of the City of Malmö, WMU will move into a multi-purpose academic complex offering almost 5,000 square metres of space. This will allow the University to grow its M.Sc. and Ph.D. programmes, alongside its Professional Development Course portfolio, and enable it to substantially expand and enhance its service to the global maritime community in many new areas, such as hosting international conferences at the University.
But, while the City of Malmö is generously funding the infrastructure – the building and its basic furnishings – there is a need for wide-ranging and generous support to enable the full implementation of the new facilities. As a result, WMU is seeking further donations that will help it to create a truly world-class maritime academic complex, offering the best possible learning environment for the students and staff.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I should just like to say a few words specifically to the students who are graduating here today. You have reached the end of what I am sure has been a challenging yet satisfying and ultimately rewarding journey. You leave the World Maritime University enriched by the experience and with the tangible benefit of an academic qualification that is recognized the world over. It is now up to you to make the most of what you have earned here in Malmö, by leading the maritime community of today towards a sound, sustainable tomorrow. I am confident that you will succeed in this. To each of you, I offer my sincere congratulations and my very best wishes for a bright future in the maritime world.
You will hold our future: not only yours but also ours – the future of all people of the world. WMU is a part of IMO; therefore, you are members of the IMO family. IMO is a part of the United Nations; therefore, you are members of the UN family. Be proud of this. And, you should be all ambassadors of IMO.
In order to explore your own future: Be ambitious! Be ambitious, but not for money, not for self-aggrandisement and not for the fame. Graduates, be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man ought to be. And, work for people and the community.
I am certain that what you have learned and experienced here in Malmö will give you the best possible foundation for what you will go on to achieve in the years ahead of you.
Ladies and gentlemen, graduates, thank you and good luck.