WMU Global Ocean Conference 2018 - Inauguration of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

WMU Global Ocean Conference 2018
Inauguration of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute
8 May 2018
Speech by Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

President of the World Maritime University,
Vice-President Meriton of the Seychelles,
Honorable Deputy Prime Minister Lövin,
Board of Governors of WMU,
faculty and students,
ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to meet you all.

As you know, in 2015, the WMU Board of Governors took the bold decision to approve a study for the financial sustainability of this University, in which eight strategic directions were identified. These, it was agreed, would be key to the institution's sustainability and future growth. One of them was the expansion of the WMU's scope to include ocean-related matters, and in particular the establishment of a Maritime and Ocean Policy Research Institute within the University.

Three years later, we are gathering here in Malmö to see that aspiration become reality as we inaugurate the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute. And for me, this is a particular pleasure because I am here in three related capacities: first, as the Chancellor of the University; second, as Secretary-General of IMO and, last, but not least, as a former student of this University.

Without doubt, this occasion marks a historic milestone in the development of the University. When Nippon Foundation Chairman Mr. Yohei Sasakawa announced that the Foundation was prepared to set up a special endowment fund, he said it would be to help the University establish itself as "an ocean and maritime research institution engaged in multi-disciplinary scientific research in the marine field, and an educational institution that generates human resources who have the capacity to address ocean issues with a multi-disciplinary approach".

This far-sighted vision clearly recognized both the essential value and importance of the ocean to the future well-being of mankind; and the fact that plans, policies and strategies for the use of the ocean cannot, by definition, be formulated in isolation.

The same was also recognized last year by the IMO Member States when they agreed that engaging in ocean governance would be one of the key strategic directions that will steer IMO through the next few years.

They agreed that the use of the world's oceans is intensifying as a result of both the continuing increase in the exploration and use of marine resources and opportunities they provide, and the pressure to preserve marine spaces for users other than the shipping industry.

They agreed that IMO must be part of the global conversation to ensure that activities in the marine space are properly balanced with the capacity of the oceans to remain healthy and diverse in the long term.

So, clearly, we are all singing from the same song-sheet.

Responsible, sustainable use of the oceans clearly requires an integrated approach, with a long-term focus: an approach that not only responds to the world's resource, climate and environmental challenges, but which also has an inter-generational element.

There are so many examples of this I could quote. In the Arctic, for example, reducing sea ice is enabling shipping to use this area much more than ever before. But that brings with it concerns over safety, environmental protection and the maritime infrastructure.

Another example is the drive to reduce and, eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. IMO member states should be commended for the breakthrough initial strategy they adopted in April, but this must now be followed by detailed, collaborative work to ensure that it comes to fruition.

As a maritime community, we need to ensure that growth is coordinated and planned, with input from all relevant stakeholders, and that opportunities for synergy are identified and taken. We also need to look forward – beyond the immediate economic cycle to future developments.

To achieve the development of sustainable economic and social growth based on the seas and oceans, when those seas and oceans are already under severe pressure, is a huge challenge. But the World Maritime University, strengthened and fortified by this new Global Ocean Institute that we are inaugurating today, is set to be at the very forefront of meeting that challenge.

The oceans and the shipping industry, both so vital to the future of mankind, depend on leaders that are well versed in ocean policy matters and can take a global view of the oceans and shipping. WMU will provide those leaders and, in opening this Institute today, we are collectively taking a major step forward to achieving the expansive and innovative strategic directions adopted by its Board of Governors three years ago.

Of course, none of this would be possible without generous support and assistance from a number of individuals and organizations. I have already mentioned Mr. Sasakawa and the Nippon Foundation, who you will hear from next, and to whom we owe a very significant debt of gratitude. But let me also add my sincere recognition and thanks to the Governments of Sweden and Canada, as well as to the City of Malmö, for their continued, magnanimous support.

This is a development of great strategic importance for IMO and, indeed, for all those who seek to advance the global ocean agenda. And it seems most appropriate that it comes in a year when IMO itself celebrates its 70th anniversary and WMU its 35th. I have every confidence that this Institute will go on to register its own, momentous milestones in the years ahead.

Thank you.