Elisabeth Mann Borgese during her visit at ZMT | Foto: Marc Wunsch, ZMT

24.04.18 | The sea, which Thomas Mann loved and which played a central role in his work, became the life purpose of his youngest daughter: until her death in 2002, Elisabeth Mann Borgese worked vigorously for the protection of the oceans and a fair distribution of marine resources. Today, she would have been 100 years old and Deutsche Post is dedicating a special stamp to her on this occasion.

Elisabeth Mann Borgese became known for her famous declaration:  "We must save the oceans if we want to save ourselves!" The organisation of the first International Conference on the Law of the Sea and the conclusion of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea were largely due to her contributions. The establishment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg and the establishment and management of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) on Malta in 1972 were further important stages in her life.

"Elisabeth Mann Borgese was and still is a great role model when it comes to marine protection. Her commitment was exemplary and her thoughts on the protection of the oceans are still relevant," said Dr. Werner Ekau, fisheries biologist at the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Research (ZMT). Elisabeth Mann Borgese also visited the ZMT in Bremen when an IOI subsidiary in Germany was launched with Werner Ekau as director of the German branch.

Today, the IOI forms a network of training and support centres with headquarters in Malta. It played a major role in the conferences in Rio in 1992, Johannesburg in 2002, Rio+20 in 2012 and the UN Ocean Conference in 2017 and is active in training and advice on issues relating to the sustainable use of our seas.

On the 10th anniversary of her death, the Heinrich-und-Thomas-Mann-Zentrum in Lübeck dedicated a unique exhibition to her: "Elisabeth Mann-Borgese and the Drama of the Seas". In 2013, the ZMT brought the exhibition to the Haus der Wissenschaft in Bremen. In original documents and contemporary reports the environmental commitment of this committed advocate for the protection of the sea was presented against the background of her biography. This was the first exhibition on the scientist’s life and work.

Further information: https://www.ioinst.org/