Yesterday March 12th the twenty-first cohort of our fellows graduated in a ceremony at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gušlaugur Žór Žóršarson, attended the ceremony.
This year 24 fellows took part in the UNU-FTP Six-months Training Programme. They came from 15 countries in Oceania, Asia, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean region. Nine were women, or just above one third.
Nine specialised in Fisheries Policy and Management; eight in Stock Assessment and Fishing Technology; and seven in Quality Management.
The ceremony was steered by UNU-FTP Chairman, Siguršur Gušjónsson.
He first introduced minister for Foreign Affairs, Gušlaug Žór Žóršarson, who in his opening address congratulated the fellows:
You have completed your training and survived the darkest winter months on this small island in the north. Now as the days are getting longer in Iceland you will return to your home countries, with new experiences and ideas.
Gušlaugur acknowledged the programme as key centre for fisheries development and research, drawing on Icelandic and international expertise from partners in the private sector, government and research institutions.
We are thankful to all these partners for sharing their knowledge and contributing to our international development efforts.
The minister drew attention to Sustainable Development Goal 14, which recognises the vital importance of the worlds oceans by calling for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.
Through its training and capacity building activities in fisheries development, he said the Fisheries Training Programme makes an important contribution to achieving this goal, which is essential to reach several other SDGs and targets.
Following the opening address the UNU-FTP director, Tumi Tómasson, introduced the graduating fellows and their final projects one by one.
Foreign minister, Gušlaugur, then handed them their graduation certificate and chairman Siguršur gave them a small gift to remind them of their stay in Iceland.
Speaking on behalf of the graduating fellows Seion Adika Richardson, from Guyana, described the program as a learning process for both professional and personal life, where we learned a new thing every single day.
We therefore wish to express thanks to every lecturer, facilitator and supervisor who worked with us over the last 6 months.
The journey was enjoyable, impactful and worthwhile, Seion said. With that in mind I charge us all to stay connected as a family and to work tirelessly to be elements of change in our respective institutions.
Concluding the ceremony chairman Siguršur thanked the graduating fellows for their stay in Iceland and wished them a safe journey back home.
Siguršur also announced Tumis decision to step down from the position of director of UNU-FTP, although, he promised, the programme would still benefit from his experience as he had decided to continue working part time in a new capacity.
He praised Tumis role in the establishment and successful running of the programme for 21 years. Under his direction it grew from six fellows from three countries in 1998 to a global network of four hundred fellows from over 60 countries at present.
After the ceremony a reception for all guests was held at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute.
Around 70 people attended the graduation ceremony at the MFRI Auditaurium.
Seion Adika Richardson speaking on behalf of the graduating fellows.
Chairman Siguršur, Minister Gušlaugur and Director Tumi listen to Seion's speach.
Fellows posing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gušlaugur Žór Žóršarson.