The United Nations – Nippon Foundation Capacity-Building Programmes

The United Nations – Nippon Foundation Capacity-building Programmes include a series of fellowships and training activities, as well as a vibrant Alumni Network. In partnership with, and funded by the Nippon Foundation, these programmes are implemented by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, in collaboration with the Nippon Foundation and host institutions.

UNNF Fellowship Programme

Clown fish in anemone. Photo: Pegge, UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition

The United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellowship provides Government officials and other mid-level professionals from developing States with advanced training on ocean affairs and the law of the sea, as well as related disciplines, including marine science in support of management frameworks.


Alumni Network activities

UNNF Alumni with the Under-Secretary-General and Legal Counsel of the United Nations

The objective of the Alumni Programme, through annual meetings and other activities, is to provide former Fellows with continuing knowledge development and networking events, as well as opportunities to participate as Alumni in various high-profile external events.

The Strategic Fellowship

Fisheye view of coral reef and divers. Photo: Wu, UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition

The Strategic Fellowship aims to enable the most vulnerable States, particularly least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, to better address strategically important and time-sensitive issues facing them in ocean affairs and the law of the sea.


BBNJ Training Programme

Light passing through kelp in water. Photo: Kumar, UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition

Established under the Sustainable Ocean Programme, the United Nations - Nippon Foundation Training Programme to Reinforce Capacity in the Context of the Intergovernmental Conference on an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (“BBNJ Training Programme”) aims at reinforcing the capacity of representatives from developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, to effectively engage in the Intergovernmental Conference.

The Thematic Fellowship

Divers and coral restoration project. Photo: Palfrey, UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition

Under the theme “The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through UNCLOS and ocean governance frameworks”, the Thematic Fellowship aims at increasing the capacity of States to formulate and implement ocean policies and regulatory frameworks for sustainable development.

Virtual Training Resources

Publications on Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Photo: UN/DOALOS

Responding to the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people, societies, and efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a series of seminars and training sessions were delivered in an adapted virtual format, which aimed at providing opportunities for continued learning, discussions, and engagement in key ocean-related spheres, including to identify and address the new and additional challenges stemming from the impacts of COVID-19 for the sustainable development of the world’s oceans.



Alumni Video (mp4)

Alumni Video

This Alumni Video, developed as part of the Alumni activities surrounding the first United Nations Ocean Conference held in 2017, provides an overview from Alumni around the world of their contributions to promoting effective ocean governance and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14, and the instrumental role played by the UNNF Fellowship Programmes in enabling those contributions.

Programme Brochure (pdf)

Programme Brochure

If you are an “ocean professional” from a developing State, in particular SIDS and LDCs,  work on law of the sea and ocean affairs issues, including  legal and policy-making aspects, marine sciences (natural and social), sustainable management of ocean sectors, and could benefit from an opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills, consider applying to become a prestigious United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellow. Note that certain opportunities are also available for individuals from developed States.