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I love to photograph three things mostly: smile, hope and water. So, this post has been attributed to smile, hope and water; just like the previous ones and the next ones.

My trip to Malmö was actually known a few weeks ago. Again with the sponsorship of the Swedish Institute (SI), I would attend a conference called Life Below Water, which would be held in this city on 11-13 October 2017. By this means, I would be able to meet new people, have knowledge and idea on life below water with which I am not familiar, and of course, discover the city of Malmö to which I would go for the first time. To be able to maintain my studies as refreshed with all these new things when I return to Norrköping would be the cherry on top. It was so; Malmö was an awesome 3 days, 2 nights experience. A few days before the event, I arranged the accommodation together with two friends, who are also SI scholarship holders. So, it was for the first time that I got the Airbnb experience, and the apartment we stayed in was definitely above our expectations with its comfort and design. And I bought my return ticket through Flixbus which, I think, is one of the most convenient transport options up to now. It was an indirect ticket which means that, for a few hours, I would see Stockholm on the way to Malmö and also Gothenburg on the way back. It was a very comfortable travel if we skip the fact that, on the way to Malmö, the two guys who sat in the back seat had a non-stop chat, I suppose, in a Southeast Asian language from 11 pm to 7 am.

Well, what is Life Below Water? On January 2016, 17 different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from No Poverty, Zero Hunger to Life Below Water, Life on Land were put into effect under the framework of the United Nations Development Program, and these goals are expected to support the 2030 Agenda within the United Nations (UN). Sweden, together with Fiji, is in charge of implementation of the 14th SDG, that is, Life Below Water. All these issues may be boring for some of us. In Sweden, however, all these are crucial issues; even for some, the fact that the micro chemicals found in toothpaste are mixed into the ocean waters, and then, that they are consumed by fish in some way, and this time, that these return to our tables as ‘food’ is a great disaster! You can imagine the fact that every waste going to the landfills again returns to the tables as animal foods, vegetables or fruits may be regarded as the sign of doomsday! You understand the sensitivity of Sweden on this issue when you learn that the rate of the waste going to the landfills is only 2% in Sweden thanks to recycling almost everything whereas this rate is up to 95% in some countries.

Now, let’s continue with the details of the conference. The event began with the students of Bladins International School singing a song about nature. They were so devoted to nature, excited and sweet that you would assume that all trees over the earth were being uprooted and these tiny hearts were reviving all these trees in their hearts! The event officially inaugurated when one of the students presented flowers to the Crown Princess of Sweden, Victoria.

A little detail: The Crown Prince of Sweden, Victoria, got married to a man from a modest ‘middle class’ family in 2010. It is worth pointing out that her brother, Prince Carl Philip, married someone who had worked as a yoga teacher and a waitress before, and then became a princess at the palace. Furthermore, as I observed in this conference again, the academicians in this country just use the title Dr. even if they are Professors. What I am saying is that career obsession regarding the spouse and job only belongs to the ‘backward’ and materialistic minds in some lands, and this is also a sort of discrimination. And all sorts of discrimination corrupt that person first; do not corrupt.

The presenter, in other words, facilitator of the conference was Trevor Graham, and he was quite successful with the questions he asked the participants and also with his comments on the presentations during the 3-day event. Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, Mayor of Malmö, who first appeared on the scene, conveyed the contributions of the city on the SDG, Life Below Water, and later on, Karolina Skog, Minister for the Environment of Sweden, shared some information about the works her country has carried out in this context. The relevant presentations indicate that Sweden has taken remarkable steps on Life Below Water not only in its own territories but also over the world, and has achieved in many environmental areas from recycling to sustainability. At this point, I would like to point out that, just like the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs which I mentioned in my previous post, Sweden has entrusted the environment and the city of Malmö to a woman again.

Well, have you ever heard of an ‘ocean forest’? Maybe my ignorance, I only heard of it at this conference. An ocean forest is an approach that produces food, feed and energy by using the saltwater, algae and carbon dioxide in the ocean, thus, that provides a solution to the environmental problems of aquaculture to some extent. Another project also aims to create sustainable agricultural areas in the Sahara Desert by refining the saltwater of the sea. Frederic Hauge, who is included with the photo of ‘From Pollution to Solution’ above and participated in the event from Norway, manages these projects. Dr. Elin Kelsey, author and advisor, made one of the most striking presentations of the conference. With the presentation of ‘Wild Contagious Hope’, Dr. Elin Kelsey shared with us the good news that some of the environmental phenomena are actually not as disastrous as the ones that are conveyed to us every day by some media, and that the oceans are cleaner than before in some places, and that similar good news increases day by day. Dr. Elin Kelsey is one of those who believe that positive emotions and thoughts, especially hope, will lead to positive results, and she is one of those who has devoted herself to spread this hope through social media channels such as #OceanOptimism.

In another part of the conference, Lasse Gustavsson emphasized that more fish are good not only for fish but also for people because it means more business opportunity and money. Another guest of the conference, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of World Maritime University, referred to building global capacity for ocean governance, and made mention of the educational opportunities offered by the university at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels in this context. Lastly, I must say that the seminars called ‘Leadership for Improved Ocean Management’ and ‘Ocean Literacy and Education’, which was held as a round-table discussion, were useful exchange of views for me though I did not include the photos of them here, but I liked joining them during the conference. Whereas it is a big problem in itself that thousands of people lose their lives in the waters of sea every year while they are fleeing from the war, conflict, oppression and hunger in their own lands, it has given me a different ‘pain of view’ to clearly discover at this conference that the lives ‘die’ day by day not only on the surface of water but also below water.

One of the most beautiful parts of the conference was, undoubtedly, technical visits. Among the technical visit options such as Visit to Copenhagen Malmö Port, Visit to the World Maritime University, Visit to the Waste-to-energy Plant and Field Expedition by Boat, me and some scholarship holder friends chose the last one, as you could guess, and after a short briefing about the nearby ocean biota on the boat, we enjoyed the Malmö shores and the conversation with the group along with a simple fika. This expedition also meant for me that I would be able to see the Øresund Bridge, which connects Malmö and Copenhagen and is seen in the photo above, for the first time. The 8 km-long bridge that hosts a railway and motorway connects to an artificial island in the middle of the strait, and then, reaches the island land of Denmark through a 4 km-long tunnel.

And new acquaintances, newly-made friendships! As I mentioned in my previous post, the SI expects its scholarship holders to keep in constant contact with each other as much as possible and to build new social networks in such events. Because the SI believes that raising the Future Global Leaders requires such an approach before anything else. So, we did so. We arranged the accommodation in Malmö together, accompanied each other during the lunches and dinners, we had brief city breaks during and after the event together again. And, of course, we met new people at the conference, during the mealtime or the technical visits from time to time, and introduced these new people to each other. I confess! Both the vegetarian lunches and the dinners with a variety of fish were really great! But that beautiful ‘white’ ice cream with chocolate sauce and colorful grains on it, which we ate at least three or four times every day, cannot be described but only experienced! Our bursting with ice cream happiness is also reflected on the photos!

In the photo above, from left to right; special thanks to Bushra Yeasmin from Bangladesh who made me smile with her different sense of humor, to Yulya from Ukraine and Judith from Kenya who accompanied me from the beginning to the end of my trip to Malmö, to Olga from Georgia who showed us around in Malmö city center; in the middle of an upper album, to Souaad from Syria who guided and accompanied me to take particularly these photos below; at the top-right in the second album, to Eunice from Kenya whom I had a brief conversation with and took photos of; and, to everyone who takes part in the shots above and makes this post more beautiful and meaningful…

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