International Maritime Prize goes to Heikki Juhani Valkonen of Finland

The prestigious International Maritime Prize for 2000 has been awarded to Mr. Heikki Juhani Valkonen, Director, Maritime Safety Department, Finnish Maritime Administration.

Mr. William A. O’Neil, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, presented the prize to Mr. Valkonen during a special ceremony (on Tuesday, 27 November) at IMO's London headquarters during the Organization’s 22nd Assembly session

left to right - His Excellency Mr. Pertti Salolainen, Ambassador of Finland to the United Kingdom; IMO International Maritime Prize winner for 2000, Mr. Heikki Juhani Valkonen, former Director, Maritime Safety Department, Finnish Maritime Administration; IMO Secretary-General Mr. William A. O'Neil.

The International Maritime Prize is awarded annually by IMO to the individual or organization judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work and objectives of IMO. The 86th session of the IMO Council in June took the decision to award the prize to Mr. Valkonen in recognition of his long service to the cause of maritime safety.

Mr. Valkonen has represented Finland at IMO since 1970, chairing the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping from 1990 to1993 and the newly-established Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation from 1993 to1996. From 1970 to 1983 he was Finland’s representative at several meetings of the Sub-Committee on Life-Saving Appliances, the Sub-committee on Radiocommunications and the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation.

During 1972, Mr. Valkonen occasionally represented Finland in the Sub-Committees on Ship Design and Equipment and the Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods. Since 1983 he has been the Finnish representative at the meetings of the Maritime Safety Committee and the Assembly of IMO.

He represented Finland at meetings of the IMO Council in 1997-2000.

Mr. Valkonen began life at sea as a galley boy in 1954 and served at sea until 1968, graduating as a Master Mariner in 1965. He came ashore and entered the Finnish Maritime Administration in 1968. While working as a full-time maritime inspector he studied law at the University of Helsinki, graduating as a Master of Law in 1975.

Soon after graduation, Mr. Valkonen was appointed as a Director of the Maritime Bureau and was appointed as head of the Maritime Safety Department by the president of Finland in 1985.

Mr. Valkonen is married with two daughters. His hobbies are golf and nature.

International Maritime Prize

The International Maritime Prize consists of a sculpture in the form of a dolphin and includes a financial award. The winner of the annual prize is also invited to write a paper on a theme relating to the work of IMO. The paper is published in IMO's quarterly magazine, IMO News.

The title of Mr. Valkonen’s paper will be “Maritime Safety Culture”.

Previous winners of the prize in recent years include: Mr. Ian Mills Williams, former Manager for IMO Relations at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) (awarded prize for 1999); the International Lifeboat Federation (ILF) (awarded prize for 1998); Dr. Gamal El-Din A. Mokhtar of Egypt, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (1997); Mr. Torkild Reedtz Funder of Denmark,  former director-general of  the Danish Maritime Authority (1996); and Mr. Georgy Ivanov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to IMO (1995).

For further information please contact:

Lee Adamson, Public Information Manager on 0207 587 3153 (ladamson@imo.org) or

Natasha Brown, Information Officer on 0207 587 3274 (nbrown@imo.org).