The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council voted to award the prize to Mrs. Olsen in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the work and objectives of IMO and to the international maritime community as a whole.
Birgit Sølling Olsen was nominated by Denmark as well as the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Associations (P & I Clubs). In their nomination, the Kingdom of Denmark highlighted Mrs Sølling Olsen's distinguished career in the maritime field and acknowledged her significant contribution to the objectives of IMO. Her knowledge of maritime law was combined with an understanding of the business aspects and growth potential of the maritime industry. The International Maritime Prize is awarded annually by IMO to the individual or organization judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work and objectives of the Organization. It consists of a sculpture in the form of a dolphin and includes a financial award, upon submission of an academic paper written on a subject relevant to IMO.
Mrs Sølling Olsen graduated in law and received a masters in law from the University of Copenhagen. She started her maritime career as a legal adviser to the Danish Register of Shipping, before moving in 1988 to the Danish Ministry of Industry. Mrs Sølling Olsen then became a director of international shipping policy and maritime law merchant law at the Ministry of Industry in 1995. In 1996, Mrs. Sølling Olsen became director for shipping policy at the Danish Maritime Authority and from 2003 until her retirement in 2017, she held the post of deputy director-general of the Danish Maritime Authority.