Fellows' Activity - Regional Networking Meeting

East Europe, the Middle East and North Africa Region

The WMU Sasakawa Fellows’ Network Meeting of East Europe, the Middle East and North Africa was held in London from January 28 to February 1, 2018, and consisted of 18 Fellows from Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, in addition to 4 UK residential Fellows from Brazil, Egypt, Lithuania and Japan. The proceedings were prepared and administered by Mr. Shinichi Ichikawa, Mr. Tsutomu Akita and Mr. Atsushi Kato from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), as well as Ms. Susan Jackson, the registrar of WMU.

The Fellows were delighted to see each other when they met in the pre-meeting session on the evening of January 28. Old friendships were revived and new friendships made among the different generations of Sasakawa Fellows. Certainly that is one of the main objectives of the meeting: “Strengthen the Sasakawa Fellows’ ’Network” The session started with self-introductions, followed by a briefing on the upcoming program. The session continued for about an hour with a detailed explanation of the agenda and events by SPF team.

Following this, the group moved to a welcome reception, where a welcome speech was given by Mr. Akita. UK resident Sasakawa Fellows Mr. Jun Sun, Technical Officer, Marine Environment Division of IMO (China, 2005), Mr. Xiao Dong, First Secretary (Maritime) of the Chinese Embassy in the UK (China, 2005) and Mr. Aji Vasudevan, Member State Audit Officer, Department for Member State of IMO (India, 2010), and Professor and Mrs. Hikima, appeared at the reception. The Fellows were very pleased with the delightful atmosphere and enjoyed talking with each other.

On Monday, January 29, the program of the meeting started with a welcome speech from Ms. Sandra Rita Allnutt, Head of Marine Technology and GBS, of IMO (Brazil, 1999), followed by a presentation on the enhancement of the WMU Sasakawa Fellows’ Network presented by Mr. Kato, who has outlined the support of The Nippon Foundation/Sasakawa Peace Foundation in the provisions of WMU Sasakawa Fellowship Networking.

The Fellows were then divided into 4 groups to discuss possible ways to enhance the mechanism of working together and managing the network in the future. Each group had its own agenda topic covering the following:
  1. Procedures to becoming a candidate and benefits of being a Sasakawa Fellow
  2. Mutual Communication by internet/website utilization
  3. Friend of WMU, Japan newsletter
  4. Expansion of the network

Highly motivated Fellows worked on the above agenda until late, even up to the early morning, and reports were submitted and presented on the next day. Innumerable suggestions came out of the groups to make the network more active and firmly established, including:
  1. Sharing information about their careers, which could be a good reference point for the Fellows as well as future applicants to seek a certain expertise and experience in the network.
  2. Establishing an association to carry out missions related to different maritime issues and social activities.
  3. Establishing groups in social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and linking to the WMU Sasakawa Fellows’ website. A method of notification of members’ updates should be created through smart phones/desktop applications.
  4. Suggesting that the Friends of WMU, Japan newsletter could be scientifically oriented in addition to being social, to allow Fellows to publish their scientific work and projects.
  5. Participating in IMO meetings as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

On Tuesday, January 30, the program began with an update on current developments at WMU by Ms. Susan Jackson, who emphasized its mission towards building a legacy of global leadership in maritime education, research, training and capacity building. She then outlined the WMU master programmes in Malmö, Dalian and Shanghai, and PhD programmes in the following research areas:
  1. Marine environment research
  2. Maritime administration law, policy and security
  3. Maritime education & training, human and organizational development (METHOD)
  4. Maritime energy research group (MarEner)
  5. Maritime risk and system safety (Mar/Sa)
  6. Shipping and port management

Ms. Jackson then spoke about distance learning programmes, executive education and professional development courses and conferences, as well as current research projects & consultancies. She thanked The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace foundation for their continuous support of WMU.

Since a number of Fellows had raised the important issue of certain countries recognizing degrees offered by WMU, Ms. Jackson reported that the university is currently working on getting recognition by the Swedish government, which will facilitate the same in other countries.

The meeting then moved on to “Fellow presentations on current maritime issues”, where a wide variety of issues were addressed covering different aspects of the maritime industry, including Safety, Education and Training, Port and Shipping Management, Maritime Law, and Human Element in Maritime Industry, as well as Fisheries and Aquaculture. Issues were discussed on local and international levels, and interesting perspectives were shared by each country, highlighting both common areas of interest and specific national differences.

The presentations and abundant debates on maritime issues continued till the evening, followed by presentations of reports on each agenda item on ways to enhance the mechanism of working together and managing the WMU Sasakawa Fellows’ Networking in the future.

The following day, the Fellows moved to the IMO building, where they were met by Mr. Berty Nanya, External Relations Officer of IMO, who gave an extensive briefing on the different divisions of the organization and their working mechanism in developing international treaties and other legislations. He also elucidated about the internship program at IMO.

In the meeting room, the Fellows listened to lectures on maritime issues by Mr. Frederick Kenney, Director of Legal Affairs, External Relations Division, and Mr. Milhar Fuazudeen, former Head of the Maritime Training and Human Element Section.

Deep discussions followed on the current challenges in the implantation process of many IMO conventions and other instruments, due to conflicts with domestic legal systems in many Member States. The STCW Convention was the keystone subject addressed by Mr. Fuazudeen, and queries concerning mutual recognition requirements of STCW were raised and were intensely discussed and clarified by Mr. Fuazudeen. The Fellows were delighted to have had the opportunity to meet and discuss maritime issues with these IMO experts.

Lunch at the cafeteria allowed many Fellows the chance to see their countrymen and women working at the Organization, and they enjoyed buying IMO souvenirs at the gift shop before moving to the main hall where they met and had a photo session with Mr. Kitack Lim, the first WMU graduate to hold the office of IMO Secretary-General. The Fellows were very honored, delighted and indeed inspired that Mr. Lim has risen to assume such an important function in the maritime community.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on a cruise boat along the Thames River, exploring the picturesque scenes of London: Big Ben, the Imperial War Museum, London Eye, Parliament and others. The fourth day ended with a farewell reception aboard the Tattershall Castle floating Pub and Restaurant.

Guests from IMO and UK-based Japanese maritime entities came to the farewell reception and enjoyed the evening’s sumptuous banquet. The program started with speeches by the guests who expressed their appreciation and pleasure at being invited to spend the evening with the Fellows. Business cards were exchanged, and many fruitful discussions took place.

The most senior Fellow of the group, Mr. Robertinas Tarasevicius (Lithuania, 1999), gave a speech expressing their gratitude to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and Mr. Yohei Sasakawa for the very generous hosting and invaluable events offered. The farewell reception ended four informative and delightful days, with fond goodbyes said by all.

This network meeting reminded us how unique the WMU Sasakawa scholarship is, in that it doesn’t end when students graduate. Many thanks to The Nippon Foundation, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and special thanks to Mr. Sasakawa for everything he and his organizations have done to make all of us more effective members of the international maritime community.

Ehab Ibrahim Othman (Egypt, 2004)