Award of the International Ocean Institute’s Elisabeth Mann Borgese Medal to Karmenu Vella – European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (2014 – 2019)


The International Ocean Institute (IOI), established in 1972 and headquartered in the premises of the University of Malta, conferred on Commissioner Karmenu Vella the IOI’s highest award, the Elisabeth Mann Borgese Medal.



Elisabeth Mann Borgese (1918 - 2002), founded the IOI as a knowledge-based non-governmental, non-profit international organization devoted to the sustainable development of the oceans. She was a champion of and a firm believer in the United Nations and what it represented in terms of justice in different aspects of governance, in particular the Ocean and the environment. One of her great achievements was her struggle for the recognition of the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. She was instrumental in encouraging world leaders to rethink our relationship with the oceans and the management of marine resources. Elisabeth 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 has established the Elisabeth Mann Borgese Medal (EMB Medal).


The EMB Medal was conferred on Commissioner Vella in appreciation of his enduring commitment to bringing the seas and oceans to the forefront of the European and global agendas throughout his tenure as European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (2014-2019). The medal recognizes leadership in promoting the importance of sustainable maritime occupations and economies that preserve natural resources on land and sea and, especially, for creating and maintaining global partnerships aimed at good governance of our planet’s ocean. The IOI recognises and appreciates the support to the IOI as custodian of the legacy of Elisabeth Mann Borgese and Arvid Pardo.




From L-R: A Vassallo, K Vella, A Behnam, A Deidun. IOI’s EMB Medal


The award ceremony was held at Europe House, in Valletta, Malta. Present at the ceremony were Dr Awni Behnam, Honorary President of the IOI; Ms Antonella Vassallo, Managing Director of IOI HQ; Ocean Ambassador Alan Deidun, Director of the IOI Malta Training Centre as well as the distinguished speakers present during the seminar. The celebration was also attended by the participants and faculty of the 15th IOI Training Programme on Regional Ocean Governance for the Mediterranean, Black, Baltic and Caspian Seas, running till this 6th December.




Past notable recipients of the EMB medal have been:

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindorn of Thailand

H.E. Kofi A Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations

H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

President Emeritus of Portugal, Prof. Mario Soares

President Emeritus of Malta, Prof. Guido De Marco

The Hon. Mr Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada;

Dr Joseph Borg, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Professor Alfred Vella, Rector of the University of Malta