Elisabeth Mann Borgese (April 24, 1918 - February 8, 2002) founded the IOI in 1972 as a knowledge-based non-governmental, non-profit international organization devoted to the sustainable development of the oceans. The IOI works to uphold and expand the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the benefit of humankind as a whole, with particular consideration of the poor. The mission of the IOI is to promote education, training and publications to enhance the peaceful uses of ocean space and its resources, their management and regulation as well as the protection and conservation of the marine environment, guided by the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind.
Elisabeth Mann Borgese was instrumental in encouraging world leaders to rethink our relationship with the oceans and our management of marine resources. She became known to the ocean community, the underprivileged and marginalized coastal communities as the Mother of the Oceans.
In her memory the Board of Governance of IOI awards the Elisabeth Mann Borgese medal to recognise outstanding actions in favour of our global oceans. Notable recipients of the EMB medal have been:
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, fmr European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries;
Professor Alfred J Vella, Rector - University of Malta;
H E Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary General;
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand;
The Hon Prof Mario Soares, President Emeritus of Portugal;
The Hon Prof Guido De Marco, President Emeritus of Malta;
The Hon Mr Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada;
The Hon. Dr Joseph Borg, former EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries;
H E Kofi A Annan, H E Secretary General of UN.