1st Joint Meeting for the International Ocean Governance Network

Tokyo, Japan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to Tokyo. Welcome to The Nippon Foundation. And welcome to this, the first General Joint Meeting for the International Ocean Governance Network. I would like to thank you for coming together from around the world to support this capacity building program in the field of ocean governance.

I understand that ocean governance is a concept that first surfaced about 30 years ago. In the short time since then, however, the field has made remarkable progress. Its first major step was made in 1994: the year that the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea entered into force. I believe that this important document was the world’s first legal foundation for the management of the entire ocean. UNCLOS was an excellent beginning. But there is still much room for improvement. Indeed, some countries have yet to ratify it. I firmly believe the road to such improvement lies in capacity building and education. Only education can truly advance the field of ocean governance.

This area still faces a shortage of talent, especially in developing countries. Thus, our discussion today, on the establishment of an International Ocean Governance Network, breaks valuable ground. This wide variety of teachers and professionals will lend this effort the creative vision and drive that it needs. It is my hope that the educational initiatives born here will foster individuals who can resolve the many problems facing the world’s oceans today.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of UNCLOS, which was a milestone in ocean governance. I believe that this year will also become known as a second milestone. Today, we begin to create capacity-building programs. Today, we begin to concretely affect our entire world.

My foundation has supported humanitarian activities for decades. We have worked in a variety of fields: Public health. Hunger. Poverty. Education. And most importantly, the ocean and maritime fields. Though diverse, all of our projects are tied by a single theme. They are all capacity-building initiatives.

One model of our maritime work is IAMU: the International Association of Maritime Universities. This network of 37 institutions was founded in 1999. Its main objective is to standardize and improve maritime education around the world. Another good example would be our new scholarship program at IMLI, the International Maritime Law Institute. At IMLI, we are fostering a new generation of specialists in maritime law. But our largest such project is hosted by the World Maritime University. There, we have established three professorial chairs and a large scholarship program that has hosted over 250 students to date. We have put a vast amount of energy into this field. And I firmly believe that capacity building in ocean governance is equally as important as these other initiatives.

I must close so that our meeting can begin. So let me first say that I am particularly thankful to the many people who worked so hard in preparing for this conference, and to those who organized the survey on global ocean governance education.

I look forward to lively and productive discussion. I am convinced that our efforts will contribute greatly to the further development of this vital field.

Thank you.