Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2016, World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden

Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2016
World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden
29 October 2016

Graduation Address by the Chancellor, Mr. Kitack Lim,
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Dear Guest of Honour, Mr. Reinhard Klingen, Director General Waterways and Shipping of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Mr. Kent Andersson, Mayor of Malmö and Chairman of the City Council, Mr. Sekimizu, Former Secretary-General of IMO and Chancellor Emeritus,
President, Excellencies, Representatives of the Government of Sweden, Distinguished guests, Mr. Mitropoulos, Former Secretary-General of IMO and Chancellor Emeritus, Staff of the World Maritime University, Students of the World Maritime University, Ladies and gentlemen,

For the first time in my capacity as IMO Secretary-General and Chancellor of the World Maritime University, I have the great pleasure to address you on this very special occasion: the graduation ceremony for the World Maritime University, Class of 2016.

It is a particularly special occasion for me on three accounts. First, I am inspired to witness a new generation of maritime and oceans leaders who possess a deep understanding of the impact shipping has on every facet of our global economy and society. Second, I am reassured that investing in maritime and oceans higher education is the pathway to establishing a new generation of future leaders with the skills and in-depth knowledge to contribute to the successful implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Third, I am reminded of my time as a student at the World Maritime University and my own graduation day that was filled with joy as well as a feeling of responsibility towards the world.

Graduates, this is undoubtedly a special day for all of you. It marks one of the highest achievements of your lifetime and the beginning of a new chapter in your life that is filled with responsibility to take on the global challenges that the World Maritime University has equipped you to deal with utilizing your skills, intellect and heart. Enjoy this day of celebration and reflect on the milestone you have achieved.

You joined the World Maritime University at a very exciting time. Last year, the campus of the University relocated to a superb, modern facility, generously provided by the City of Malmö as part of its long-term commitment to the University. You are the first class to spend your entire academic year in the award-winning building that provides students and staff with a unique working environment. The extraordinary facilities are currently shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Award. Learning from each other and studying in such a productive and inspiring environment is a life-changing and rewarding experience. 

During your time at WMU, you have witnessed significant change on the global stage, including last year’s landmark adoption of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Next week, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will enter into force. Based on these milestones, WMU’s operational context has changed.

These developments influenced the University’s new Strategic Plan for 2016-2019 to include an expanded mandate encompassing the Oceans.  In fulfilment of the new mandate and its strategic goals, this year, the World Maritime University began offering two new specializations on Ocean Sustainability, Governance and Management and on Maritime Energy Management.

As part of the United Nations family, the World Maritime University is committed to supporting the 2030 Agenda and Global Goals to transform our world. The University’s mission as the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and oceans education, professional training and research while building global capacity and promoting sustainable development, contributes directly to safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans in support of the maritime industry as an engine of world trade and as a leader in sustainable development. In delivering on its mandate, the World Maritime University, as a cornerstone in support of IMO’s mission, ensures that you - its graduates – are equipped to translate IMO Conventions into national laws and regulations and to ensure that they are effectively implemented.

WMU continues to excel in postgraduate maritime and oceans education. The Class of 2016, with 108 students from 47 nations, represented a record enrollment of 35 women comprising 32 percent of the intake, up from 25 percent in the previous year.

This year, WMU welcomed a record breaking 130 students to the University’s 14-month M.Sc. programme in Malmö. The Class of 2017 represents students from 49 countries with a record enrolment of 48 women comprising 37 percent of the intake, up from last year’s record of 32 percent. This speaks to the University’s commitment to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in the maritime industry.

In addition to the successful M.Sc. programme here in Malmö, the University offers a PhD programme, a Postgraduate Diploma, M.Sc. programmes in Shanghai and Dalian, China, distance learning programmes, and Executive and Professional Development Courses. WMU faculty produces world-class research and further disseminates knowledge to its constituency through events such as the Migration by Sea Symposium that took place at WMU last April, and the groundbreaking international conference on Maritime Energy Management, MARENER 2017, that will take place in January next year.

To ensure the University’s success and to support its enduring contribution to global sustainable development, an Endowment Fund was established last year. Its main purpose is to spearhead fund-raising activities and to promote the financial sustainability of the University in the long term. In the coming year, the University will launch a fully-fledged campaign to engage its constituency, and particularly its Alumni, in a quest to secure the University’s future through financial support from the community of maritime and oceans stakeholders.

I strongly encourage IMO Member States and the shipping industry stakeholders to engage with the World Maritime University in support of the Endowment Fund during this exciting time of outreach, progress and growth. A concerted effort of financial support will secure the University’s future and enable it to continue educating maritime and oceans professionals of the highest caliber to support IMO Member States, the shipping industry, the world as a whole and us, as individuals, who rely on maritime transport in our everyday life.

I wish to express my deep appreciation to the Government of Sweden and the City of Malmö for their continuous and generous support as well as their kind hospitality to the University staff and students. My sincerest gratitude extends also to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, which, through the Nippon Foundation, remains the largest fellowship donor with 21 Sasakawa Fellows in the Class of 2016, and a total of 29 Sasakawa Fellowship Students in the Class of 2017.

For their continued and increased levels of fellowship support, I also wish to thank the Governments of the Republic of Korea, Germany and Denmark, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, the TK Foundation, the International Chamber of Shipping, the American Bureau of Shipping, BP Shipping, Orients Fond, and Gard AS. I am also pleased to note that IMO continues to make a substantial contribution through its Technical Cooperation funds by providing several fellowships to the University.

We have also welcomed this new academic year fellowship donations from the Governments of the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar and also the Stena Group of companies. These governments and organizations have demonstrated a commitment to sustainable development and an understanding of the challenges of the 21st century’s global society.

I am extremely grateful to all our donors and sponsors who enable the World Maritime University to provide its service to the world and to make a positive impact on the lives of all peoples everywhere, because shipping is indispensable to the world.

I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to President Doumbia-Henry, who assumed office in July 2015. She is steering the World Maritime University into a new era of positive change, and has demonstrated an immense dedication to the education of maritime and oceans leaders of tomorrow as well as sustainable development worldwide.

My final words now go out to the graduates: Congratulations to you all on this major achievement in your life!

And: carpe diem! – “seize the day!”

Your desire to succeed and your urge to unlock your full potential have been combined with the expert knowledge only the World Maritime University is equipped to pass on. You must now “seize the day” to make shipping safer, more secure, more efficient and with less impact on the environment.

Seize the day as you become maritime and ocean leaders in your own countries and internationally. Seize the day and contribute to the work of IMO by supporting effective implementation and upholding full compliance with its instruments in your home countries. Seize the day, and give back to WMU as determined Ambassadors of your Alma Mater, inspiring future classes of global leaders to walk in your footsteps. Seize the day, as loyal, integer human beings full of respect for rights and obligations of others.

This is by no means an easy task. It is not accomplished today or tomorrow. But you must start somewhere and the best place to start is here and now. However, you do not walk this challenging road alone. You walk with your predecessors, WMU alumni, who have reached positions of great authority in their home countries and within international organizations. With you walk all those serving the IMO and the United Nations System with merit and conscientiousness. I walk by your side, and I see the brightest of futures if you are prepared to seize the day.

You and I now share the experience of being WMU alumni. Seize the day, and employ all you have learned at WMU. Use the strength of knowledge, skill and unity in heart and mind wisely to serve the world’s maritime and oceans constituency with dedication, perseverance, focus and hard work. Only then you will be proud to say “I am a WMU Alumni”.

Once again, congratulations on this very special day we are all happy to seize and my best wishes for a bright and fruitful future.

Thank you.