OECS Students Graduate From World Maritime University

(OECS) – Two OECS students graduated with PhDs from the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö, Sweden on Saturday, 28th October. They were among the graduands who participated in graduation exercises at the Malmö Live Concert Hall in Sweden.

The World Maritime University is a world-renowned tertiary institution specialising in post-graduate training and degrees in maritime specialised areas, including international maritime law and policy; maritime energy management; shipping management and logistics; port management; ocean sustainability, governance and management; and maritime safety and environmental management.

The OECS students who graduated from WMU on Saturday were emblematic of the strong and beneficial programme of cooperation that exists between the WMU and the OECS Commission. The OECS has long recognised the need to harness the full potential of the blue economy with its ability to enhance economic opportunities for OECS Member States’ economies while safeguarding ocean and coastal ecosystems and long-term sustainable development.

The Eastern Caribbean Regional Oceans Policy (ECROP) is a key instrument in advancing OECS member states towards a successful blue economy, and the WMU provides important support in the form of technical assistance and capacity-building.

The ‘Closing the Circle’ programme is a capacity-building programme which addresses the issues of marine debris, sargassum and marine spatial planning research, with a specific geographic focus on the Eastern Caribbean region. The programme, which supports PhD student scholarships, is funded and supported by the Nippon Foundation and was jointly launched by the Nippon Foundation and the World Maritime University-salsa kawa Global Ocean Institute in January 2020. The programme is delivered by the ‘Closing the Circle’ team at world Maritime University in partnership with the OECS Commission. The current research team comprises four PhD candidates: Roxanne Graham of Grenada; Tricia Lovell of Antigua and Barbuda; Kristie Alleyne of Barbados; and Kristal Ambrose of the Bahamas. The various theses presented by the candidates included such topics as an analysis of pelagic sargassum currently impacting the eastern Caribbean.

Speaking on the achievement of the graduates, Dr. Aleke Stöfen-O’Brien, Assistant Professor at WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, said:

“The four recent PhDs have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their respective fields and have always seen the broader context and impact of their work throughout their research journey. Their exceptional achievements serve as a testimony for the transformative power of education and we know they will carry their knowledge and experience forward to the benefit of everyone around them. We would like to thank the Nippon Foundation for their vision and support in realising this project as well as the OECS Commission and Member States for their extraordinary collaboration and support in facilitating the work under the project.”
The WMU- Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute has ongoing consultations and initiatives with regional actors like the OECS Commission, the UN Environment Caribbean Programme, CARICOM, the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the UWI and the IMO-FAO GloLitter Project, among others.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the WMU and the OECS Commission in April 2023, which provides a framework for continued cooperation in the field of maritime and ocean affairs. Areas of collaboration include (i) exchange, education, and training, (ii) research, innovation, technical and scientific cooperation, and (iii) communication, awareness, and outreach.

In recognition of this important partnership and the outstanding achievements of the OECS graduates, the commencement exercises in Malmö were attended by HE Colin Murdoch, OECS ambassador accredited to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ambassador Murdoch held discussions with WMU faculty, seeking to define specific actions towards implementing the MOU, including co-hosting events at various appropriate fora to showcase the partnership’s successes. He also met with the successful OECS graduates and their families and congratulated them on their achievements.