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23 January 2023
UWC SANORD collaboration is smooth sailing

The successful collaboration between the Norwegian government and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was once again highlighted when the Statsraad Lehmkul sailed into Cape Town.

The Southern African Nordic Centre (SANORD) brings together academics of Nordic and Southern African institutions to address research and societal issues. SANORD was birthed about 14 years ago and is the brainchild of former UWC Rector, Professor Brian O Connell and University of Bergen Rector, Kenneth Gronsmo. The SANORD Central Office is based at UWC. 

The Norwegian tall ship, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, departed from the Norwegian coast in August 2021 and has been on a circumnavigation mission of the globe known as the One Ocean Expedition. It’s recognised as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Ocean Development but has also been a research opportunity for scientists, students, and others to explore and collect data on the status of the world’s oceans.

Director of SANORD and UWC Director of International Relations, Umesh Bawa, said: “SANORD was launched as an entity to facilitate academic research and collaborations between Norway and UWC. SANORD as well as UWC has a focus on sustainable development and a priority to ensure that knowledge is available and produced for the poorest of the poor so that it benefits humanity.”

The Royal Norwegian Embassy and partners hosted a series of events when the Statsraad Lehmkuhl docked in Cape Town. Seminars included opportunities for Green Shipping in Southern Africa, Aquatic Food for Global Food Security, and Perspectives from Southern Africa Towards a UN Plastic Treaty.

Bawa continued: “All the contributions from SANORD’s Nordic and Southern African members are about service to humanity. This One Ocean project was important because it kept a focus on the importance of the ocean, the environment, and climate change with the foregrounding of the needs of the people.”

He added: “For SANORD and UWC that focus has been on the African continent and on the Global South where the ocean is part of our livelihood. It is also sometimes the target of overfishing, which is something which big fishing corporates do, but which doesn’t always benefit the poorest of the poor.”

UWC will host the SANORD Conference in 2024.

About the Statsraad Lehmkuhl 

She was built in Germany in 1914, originally for commercial purposes. The ship has sailed under the Norwegian flag for over a century. She measures 98 meters in length, carries 22 sails, a crew of 25 members and can carry over 140 trainees on a trip. 

Its tallest mast measures 48 meters above the ground. The top speed is 17 knots, 31.5km/h.

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl. Picture by Amy Green - PTR (

Onboard the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. Picture Carmel Roberts