THE University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Norway’s University of Bergen (UiB) formalised ongoing collaborations with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on November 13. In this MOU, the two universities committed to advancing research and action on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 13 (Climate action) and 14 (Life Below Water).
The signing ceremony, aboard the Norwegian Statsraad Lehmkuhl training vessel docked at Jamaica’s Port Royal, was among the highlights of a welcome reception hosted by the Norwegian Ambassador, Beate Stirø, for the crew of One Ocean Expedition. The One Ocean Expedition’s historic 55,000-mile world voyage, which began in August 2021, is organised by the University of Bergen, and recognised as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The floating academy comprises students, teaching and research faculty as well as representatives of scientific and development institutions.
Its Jamaica port stop is the fruit of an almost two-year planning event and culmination of conversations between The UWI and UiB within the context of the collaborative framework of the Global University Consortium on SDG-13.
The One Ocean Expedition is a demonstration of The UWI’s global partnerships in action. Commenting on the collaboration with the University of Bergen, Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Affairs, at The UWI, Dr Stacy Richards-Kennedy, stated, “The UWI is very proud of its partnership with the University of Bergen. Our strategic alliance, as lead institutions for SDG-13 and SDG-14, is already creating opportunities for increased teaching and research collaborations for faculty and students, new discoveries and research applications in marine science and global advocacy on the challenges faced by Caribbean islands that are on the frontline of the climate crisis.”
Signatory on behalf of UiB, Prof Kerim Nisancioglu, stated, “By joining forces, the two universities will solidify our joint leadership in climate and ocean science and further strengthen our efforts to fulfil the goals set by the UN Agenda 2030.”
Among initiatives on the horizon for the two universities include creating a new multidisciplinary Caribbean research programme on ocean science and climate action; strengthening linkages for North-South and South-South research advocacy and partnerships between Norway, the Caribbean and the South Pacific to advance ocean science, climate action, science diplomacy and the global policy impact agenda. The work programme involves exploring the creation of a network of ocean leaders of the future, through a unique UWI-UiB Graduate Research Trainee Programme for research training, knowledge exchange and practical-based internships with academic, industry or civil society partners in Norway, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The nurturing of the relationship between UWI and UiB began in 2018 through their membership of the International Association of Universities, and continues to evolve. The two have jointly hosted High-level Political Forums on Sustainable Development as well as a range of reciprocal faculty seminars.
The One Ocean Expedition includes two postgraduate researchers from The UWI Mona Campus—Chauntelle Green from the Department of Life Sciences and Deron Maitland from the Department of Physics.
From September-October 2021, they were enrolled in a One Ocean field course webinar series, coordinated by the University of Bergen, which also featured faculty experts, Prof Judith Gobin and Dr Michael Burn from The UWI’s St Augustine and Mona and campuses, respectively, as facilitators.
On November 16, the Mona campus hosted a contingent of 33 participants from the ship for a tour of the campus’ Port Royal Marine Lab, followed by a Knowledge Exchange Forum hosted by the Faculty of Science and Technology.