7 November - 7 December 2023, Malta
The 18th edition of the annual 5-week Training Programme was successfully delivered by the IOI Malta Training Centre and the University of Malta, to a cohort of 16 participants with Prof Awni Behnam (Honorary President of the IOI) as Course Director, and Prof Alan Deidun, (Director IOI Malta Training Centre) as Course Manager, expertly aided by the course administration team comprised of Celine Farrugia and Marco Iannaccone. As in previous years, the Programme gave the participants the unique opportunity to obtain formal accreditation by the University of Malta for the academic content of the Course by completing and submitting the full Study Unit assessments. Successful achievement of the accredited Study Units was equivalent to 15 ECTS from the University of Malta, host institute of the IOI Malta Training Centre.
This year’s 16 participants hailed from 9 countries surrounding the regional seas: Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Malta, and Latvia. As in previous years, the participants came from diverse academic and professional backgrounds, ranging from coastal and marine management to engineering, hydrology and aquaculture management.
The opening ceremony of this year’s IOI Malta Training Course featured University of Malta Rector Prof Alfred J Vella, the Head of the Geosciences Department within the University of Malta Prof Sebastiano D’Amico as well as Dr Corinne Casha, Assistant Director within the Directorate for Global Issues of the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs. A corresponding press statement was published on the University of Malta news portal and a second such statement following the successful completion of the same Course will be published in the coming weeks.
As well as the usual format of class-based lectures, the participants also engaged in policy simulation sessions, role-playing games, scenario planning and mock meetings which allowed them to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills in a more practical and multidisciplinary manner. Similarly to previous training programmes, the learning experience was not limited to the classroom, with a fieldtrip showcasing areas of significant marine and coastal importance around Malta such as the Grand Harbour, the Malta Freeport, Ta' Barkat Sewage Treatment Plant. Additionally, the participants also visited the premises of AquaBioTech Group, Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta, Malta National Aquarium, the International Maritime Law Institute and the Tsunami Early-Warning System in Marsaxlokk, where they received briefings, presentations and practical demonstrations from the resident experts/lecturers. An additional innovative aspect of this year's programme included a digital ocean literacy tool demonstration conducted at the Esplora interactive science museum.
The course culminated with the Regional Ocean Policy Frameworks Simulation exercise for the Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Baltic Seas, by now an established hallmark exercise where participants had the opportunity to engage in the process of policy drafting under the guidance of regional experts that encouraged them to use the knowledge gained during the programme in a practical application of policy making and governance.
On the last day the participants attended the IOI Special Seminar, titled: ‘Breaking the Stalemate: The Role of Ocean Literacy in Catalysing Progress on SDG 14 and Beyond, which incorporated interventions by representatives from UNCTAD, UNESCO-IOC, the National University of Singapore, the IOI and the University of Malta.