Event to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the World Maritime University (WMU)

WMU 30th Anniversary
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
10 July 2013
Your Excellencies, Secretaries-General Emeriti, fellow speakers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to IMO Headquarters on this very special occasion. We are particularly fortunate to be joined by so many distinguished visitors and old friends. Your presence here is always most welcome and it pays due testimony to the special status of the remarkable institution that we are here to honour today.
The World Maritime University – or “WMU” as we all refer to it – is celebrating its 30th anniversary and I consider it a privilege to be able to play a part in that celebration. As IMO’s centre of excellence for postgraduate maritime education, WMU’s mission is closely allied to that of IMO.
The influence of WMU within today's maritime community is immense, and cannot be overstated. Numerous alumni hold senior maritime positions as ministers of transport, directors of shipping companies and ports, heads of maritime academies and naval organizations, and many serve as representatives of their home countries at international forums and organizations such as the IMO.
The vast majority of those individuals who pass through its various programmes go on to become global maritime leaders – experts and professionals in their fields. 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.
As today’s anniversary event unfolds you will, I am certain, hear the story of WMU from different perspectives. You will hear from distinguished individuals who were involved right back to the very early days of WMU when, at the beginning of the 1980s, IMO identified a shortage of well-qualified, highly educated maritime experts, particularly in developing countries. IMO founded this institution to support Member States with the high level education necessary to implement international conventions adopted at IMO.
Thirty years later, WMU has continued to go from strength to strength – and throughout that period it has served both IMO and the wider maritime community.
But WMU’s unparalleled success in producing a conveyer-belt of talent for the maritime community in the developing world is only one half of this remarkable success story. The hugely positive impact it has had on the lives of those fortunate enough to study there is also something that should be recognized and applauded. The social and cultural experiences they gain at the University are of immense value in their professional and personal lives.
Studying and living together at WMU has given students a unique opportunity to learn how to interact with people from so many different cultures. Instilling respect and appreciation for others gives students a life-skill that is invaluable in all arenas, but particularly in a business as global and as international as shipping.
From a practical point of view, it gives WMU alumni an unrivalled network of friends and colleagues with whom to share and resolve various issues they face in the real world of the maritime community.
Students in the Malmö Master of Science programme in particular benefit from the unusually diverse and international environment that provides an extraordinary network of faculty members, visiting professors, guest lecturers, and fellow students.
Today, as WMU celebrates its 30th anniversary, it extends its offerings far beyond the original Master of Science degree. In addition to six specializations available within the Malmö M.Sc. programme, there are now M.Sc. programmes in Shanghai and Dalian, China and a Ph.D. programme offering five specializations. Distance-learning is available as well, with a Postgraduate Diploma in Marine Insurance through co-operation with Lloyd’s Maritime Academy.
In addition, WMU utilizes its extensive network of international maritime experts to deliver a broad program of professional development courses in Malmö, with the potential for tailor made courses at any location worldwide.
WMU may be celebrating 30 years today, but I am delighted to note that this is clearly not an institution that is resting on its laurels or looking back at its past. For example, WMU has recently been taking advantage of its extensive network to organize and host a series of international conferences, in a significant expansion to the services it has traditionally offered the maritime community.
Recent topics have included oil spill risk management, piracy at sea, emerging ballast water management systems, the impact of climate change in the maritime industry and ship recycling. The next offering, on 12 November, will be a joint effort between WMU, BIMCO, the Danish Shipowners’ Association, the Nippon Foundation and the Japanese International Transport Institute, regarding Corporate Social Responsibility in the Maritime Industry.
Alongside the academic programmes, research has also grown at WMU. Among the projects currently underway are those in important areas such as mitigating invasive species in the arctic, risk assessment, maritime spatial planning, e navigation and safety of life at sea.
In May of 2012, I was pleased to be invited to inaugurate the WMU’s Maritime Risk and Safety Simulation Laboratory, a specialized research lab offering unique experimental facilities, particularly in the field of e-navigation.
With such an impressive record of growth and a greatly increased range of activities over the past 30 years, it is no surprise to learn that WMU has outgrown its current facilities. The City of Malmö has always generously provided WMU with its facilities and that continued generosity will soon mean a new home for the institution. At the close of 2014, the University will move to Tornhuset, the historic Old Harbour Master’s Building in the centre of Malmö.
This century-old building is a city landmark, but, in keeping with such a forward-looking institution, it will be supplemented by a dramatic new, modern addition designed by a leading Scandinavian architect. In total, this move will virtually double WMU’s floor space and provide a strong foundation for even more growth and development for this remarkable institution over the next 30 years.
Ladies and gentlemen, I said at the beginning of this short address that we would be hearing some of the key players in the development of WMU. But first, I have messages from two people who are central to the WMU story, but who are unable to be with us this evening.
First, from Mr Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, an organization that has given so much support to WMU over the years, in terms of sponsorship and financial assistance.  Mr. Sasakawa stated:
“I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of the World Maritime University. The University has developed a fine reputation over the course of its history and we are very proud of our involvement with this highly respected educational institution. I very much look forward to future co-operation and providing further assistance in coming years in collaboration with IMO as WMU continues its ground-breaking work in addressing maritime issues.”
And finally, some words from the man who could perhaps claim to be the founding father of WMU, IMO Secretary-General Emeritus Dr. C.P. Srivastava; from his letter to me.  Dr. Srivastava stated:
“Thank you so much for asking me to address this distinguished gathering. I would have liked very much to be with you, but my present health is not good enough to allow me travel. I send my felicitations to all members of the maritime community, heads of mission and to all distinguished guests who have assembled on this day to commemorate 30 years of achievements of the World Maritime University.
An exceptional set of circumstances brought about the creation of the World Maritime University.
On 3 Nov 1980, the IMCO/SIDA seminar on the implementation of global maritime training standards for the enhancement of marine safety and prevention of marine pollution was held at Malmö, Sweden.
Mr. U. Adelsohn, Minister of Transport and Communications, Government of Sweden explained the need for special assistance to developing countries, and announced support for establishing an International University of Maritime Sciences and Technology, and that his government would be happy join UNDP and other donors to support this institution. He also declared that the City of Malmö would provide suitable premises for this institution.
A very good relationship with SIDA - Swedish International Development Agency and IMCO developed and on 7 November 1980, a firm proposal was made in a Resolution supporting the establishment of an International University of Maritime Sciences and Technology at Malmö, Sweden.
On 20 November 1981, a Resolution was passed at the Twelfth Session of the Assembly to establish a high level World Maritime University at Malmö, Sweden. In the Resolution, the Secretary-General of IMCO was given the mandate to take all necessary action to establish the university.
It was a historic moment, on 12 January 1983, when Mr. Olaf Palme, the then Prime Minister of Sweden responded to my appeal for funds by declaring that the Swedish Government would contribute to cover one third of the annual costs of the proposed World Maritime University, with a ceiling of US$ 1 million per year unconditionally, for as long as the University continued to function in Sweden.  The Government of Sweden and the City of Malmö had already promised a robust arm of infrastructural support, free of cost, to locate the World Maritime University at Malmö, by Resolution at the Assembly, in November 1981.
On 9 February 1983, a formal agreement was signed in London by the Ambassador of Sweden, His Excellency Mr. Leif Leifland and myself on behalf of the International Maritime Organization regarding the legal status, immunities and privileges of the World Maritime University. The Agreement  came into force on 1 May 1983.
I wish to record today again the experience of tremendous goodwill, generosity and and complete commitment to global co-operation from the Government of Sweden.
I recall with immense gratitude the role that Mr. Nils Yngvesson, Chairman of the City executive Board of the City of Malmö, played in facilitating this process, and the support, which has since been continuous from the Government of Sweden and the City of Malmö.
I express my gratitude for the financial support from the Government of Norway, and Mr. Bradford Morse of UNDP, which further gave the World Maritime University immediate and vital sustainability.
The excellence that the World Maritime University has achieved in providing a variety of education, research opportunities,  outreach programs, and specialised courses to the world maritime community is a matter of great pride. I am especially happy to know about ongoing research projects on subjects ranging from wind turbine technology, environmental impact of shipping in the Arctic to crew centred design and operation of ships and systems and training for green shipping. The World Maritime University is striding ahead with the times.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that World Maritime University alumni have found placement in very responsible positions in their respective countries and even outside them. The statistics are that 3,477 students from 164 different countries have graduated from the World Maritime University. They now hold very senior positions- Government ministers,deputy ministers, ambassadors to other countries. Some have pursued career paths to occupy senior positions in shipping companies, regional maritime organizations and national port and harbour authorities.
The principal goal of creating parity between the expertise and knowledge of developed and developing nations has been and will continue to be served. The mission of uniting the world maritime community so that they are able to follow and interpret the global regime of maritime protocols and conventions is realised. At my age of 93 years, I feel fortunate to have lived to see the high water mark of achievements of the World Maritime University.
I wish to express my deepest appreciation and pay tribute to the visionary leaders who have led the University's administration from the start: the first Rector Sölve Arvedson, followed by Rear Admiral Sheldon Kinney, Erik Nordström, Danny Walters, and Karl Laubstein.
I wish to express my admiration to President Björn Kjerfve, and his dedicated team of professors, lecturers and administrators for the very strong academic and administrative structure of the World Maritime University. They have together co ordinated very successfully the demands of the expanding horizons of technology, with continuous international communication, funding management, and with their professional expertise.
I send you, Mr. Sekimizu, my very best wishes and to all your guests on this auspicious occasion, and congratulate you on the very vital role you play in the World Maritime University.”
Ladies and gentlemen, for 30 years, WMU has performed, and delivered, at the very highest level.
It has achieved everything its founders could ever have envisaged, and much, much more. It has grown into an institution of truly world class, with an international presence and a global outreach.
I am delighted that we are hosting its anniversary celebration here today, and I have every confidence that the future of WMU will be every bit as successful, and worthwhile, as its very remarkable story has been so far.
Thank you.