World Maritime University Celebrates 40th Anniversary

IMO-founded postgraduate World Maritime University marks four decades at Conference on Maritime and Ocean Sustainability

Over four decades, the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden, has developed into a world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and ocean education, research, and professional training.

The University, established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), counts more than 5,800 alumni from 170 countries and territories. Many hold senior positions in maritime administrations around the world, testament to the University’s mission to build an extensive network of well-qualified, highly educated maritime experts, particularly in developing nations.

World Maritime University
Credits: IMO

To mark the 40th anniversary, a morning of celebrations kicked off an international Conference on Maritime and Ocean Sustainability (20 to 22 June 2023) in Malmö.

IMO’s Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, himself a graduate of WMU, highlighted the University’s achievements and reflected on his own experiences at WMU.

“I am sure I can speak for all of us WMU alumni when I say that time spent studying at WMU has a profound impact on our lives – not just in terms of the studies completed but also the connections made. Our life experiences in the city of Malmö and WMU are ingrained in our hearts and minds – something we take with us wherever we go in the world and in our careers,” he said.

He added: “The mighty international network of WMU graduates is a great force for good in the world. Those who continue to work as experts for the benefit of the international maritime community will help ensure that our beautiful ocean is passed on to future generations.”

Thanking the many generous supporters of WMU over the past 40 years, Mr. Lim said:

“The success of the World Maritime University would not be possible without the support of the host City of Malmö and the Government of Sweden – IMO and the wider maritime community thank you with deepest gratitude. And I wish to express my appreciation to all the citizens of Malmö who have been generous and polite, always showing their kindness and support to WMU and its students.”

“My sincerest thanks also go to the all the generous donors, private and public. Their financial, fellowships and in-kind support ensure that the University continues to be one of the cornerstones of IMO’s capacity-building mission,” he said.

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU’s outgoing President, said:

“The picture today, as we mark our Ruby Anniversary, is very different – in addition to the Malmö-based MSc, we have outreach MSc teaching in China; five distance-learning programmes; and a thriving PhD programme. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) since the year 2009, continues to recognize the importance of the World Maritime University of the International Maritime Organization, as a centre of excellence for maritime education, research and capacity building.”

Professor Max Mejia, who begins his tenure as WMU President at the end of June, said:

WMU must continue to be effective in serving its function of building capacity — of training future leaders and decision-makers — and its function of creating new knowledge that will contribute to IMO and global efforts to solve conundrums and challenges in the maritime and oceans areas.”

Alongside music provided by the WMU choir and the Malmö fire brigade, other speakers celebrating WMU’s 40 years included: Rear Admiral Peter Brady (Ret), Vice Chair of WMU’s Board of Governors and Director General of The Maritime Authority of Jamaica; Mr. Johan Davidson, State Secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing, Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure, Government of Sweden; Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation; Ms. Sofia Heden, Deputy Mayor of Malmö; and Mr. Leo Donghyeog Seo, President of WMU’s Student Council.

Many WMU alumni are attending the celebrations and Conference.

The three-day “WMU at 40: Conference on Maritime and Ocean Sustainability” is sponsored by IMO, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority. Sessions cover: Maritime & Ocean Sustainability; Transitioning to Zero Emission Shipping; Focusing on People to Ensure Healthy, Safe & Secure Working Conditions; Promoting Closer Collaboration Among Stakeholder Communities; Rewarding Sustainable Performance and Fostering Innovation; Creating A Level Playing Field Through Transparency & Accountability; and Protecting the Oceans Beyond National Jurisdiction.

See the Conference programme here.

A forum for regional and national alumni associations from around the world to showcase their work and build bridges with others was held on Thursday.

Photographs of the Conference can be viewed here.

World Maritime University (WMU)

In the early 1980s – under the leadership of the then Secretary-General, the late Dr. C.P. Srivastava – IMO identified a shortage of well-qualified, highly educated maritime experts, particularly in developing nations. Dr. Srivastava was a driving force behind the idea of establishing an international training institute to support Member States with high-level education and training experts to implement international Conventions, in particular the IMO instruments.

Sweden offered to host the new university – and with the financial support of the Swedish Government, the City of Malmö, and private donations, the World Maritime University was inaugurated on 4 July 1983.

WMU was founded with a mission to be the world centre of excellence in postgraduate maritime and ocean education, research, and professional training. The institution builds global capacity and effective implementation of the IMO Conventions and regulations whilst promoting maritime sustainable development. It also promotes the roles of women in the maritime and ocean sectors.

The academic offerings of the University have expanded beyond the original Master of Science degree in Maritime Affairs.

WMU today offers seven maritime-related specializations available within the Malmö MSc programme, a PhD programme, and an MPhil in cooperation with the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI).

WMU offers two MSc in Maritime Affairs specializations in Shanghai and Dalian, China. A Distance Learning programme has been added to the academic portfolio, including an LLM in International Maritime Law as well as Postgraduate Diploma programmes in Maritime Energy, Marine Insurance Law & Practice, Executive Maritime Management, and International Maritime Law.

WMU utilizes its extensive network of international maritime experts to complement its academic programme and professional development courses, as well as to support WMU’s international conferences on key topics of importance to the maritime and ocean community.

WMU has benefitted from new infrastructure, including state-of-the-art facilities on the waterfront, centred on the refurbished historic Malmö Harbour Master’s Building, inaugurated in 2015 – and the Øresund bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen.

WMU works to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) on education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, sustainable industrialization and innovation, climate action, the oceans, peace and justice, and working in partnership.

Press Release

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