Distinguished Panelists & Guests,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am delighted to participate in the Virtual Conference on National Consultations on Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
I would like to first congratulate ICWA for holding National Consultations by engaging Indian experts and stakeholders associated with the seven pillars of the IPOI through consultations.
Indeed, the Indo-Pacific region is an important geographical space that is home to more than 64% of global population and contributes over 60% of global GDP. About half of the global trade happens through the maritime trade routes in this region. Over the years, this region has seen strong and sustained economic growth spreading across the Pacific rim, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Gulf region and the East and Southern Coast of Africa.
Our Indo-Pacific vision builds on India’s Act East Policy and the doctrine of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) announced by PM in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Indo-Pacific vison was articulated by Prime Minister in his Keynote address at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June 2018.
India’s Indo-Pacific Vision envisages a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region built on rules-based international order, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and over-flight, unimpeded lawful commerce, mutual respect for sovereignty, peaceful resolution of disputes, as well as equality of all nations.
To give concrete shape to India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific, Prime Minister announced the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) held in Bangkok, Thailand on 4th November 2019 with a focus on collaborative effort to better manage, conserve, sustain and secure the maritime domain.
India’s IPOI does not envisage to create a new institutional framework and will rely on the Leaders-led EAS framework. It is envisaged to be structure-light and cooperation-heavy. Without being caught up with institutional differences, we are willing to work with everyone in the region including IORA, BIMSTEC, IOC etc.
Our Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiatives (IPOI) envisages for cooperation and collaboration under seven pillars namely, Maritime Security, Maritime Ecology, Maritime Resources, Capacity Building and Resource Sharing, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation and Trade, Connectivity and Maritime Transport.
To progress cooperation on each of the seven pillars of IPOI, we have identified institute/knowledge partner within India for each of the IPOI pillars to generate ideas and develop papers. Few of them are like NCCR/INCOIS for Marine Ecology , NMF and ICWA for Marine Security, FSI, Mumbai and NIOT Chennai for Marine Resoures, NIO Goa, INCOIS Hyderbad, ICWA for Capacity Buidlding and Resourses Sharing, NDMA for Diasater Risk Reuction and Management, FSI, Mumbai, IOM, Chennai, Nio Goa, and InCOIS Hyderbad for Science, Technology and Cooperation, RIS for Trade, connectivity and Transport.
While India will be the driving force behind all areas identified under the IPOI, we are also exploring partnerships with like-minded countries. Since the announcement , IPOI has been welcomed by the countries in the region. The Australia has agreed to lead on the Maritime Ecology Pillar, Japan on Connectivity, France and Indonesia on the Maritime Resource Pillar of IPOI. India would be taking the lead in Disaster Risk Reduction and Maritime Security pillar of the IPOI.
Under the Lead of Japan for Connectivity Pillar of IPOI, India and Japan have jointly organized three seminars in March 2021 on enhancing meaningful connectivity in the region under IPOI.
In April 2021, Australia announced grant of Australian $1.4 Million to generate ideas with all interested partners under its lead on the Marine Ecology Pillar of IPOI. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, announced the recipients of this grant during Indo Pacific Business Summit held on 6-8 July 2021 which was organised jointly by CII & MEA and saw the participation of Foreign & Trade Ministers from countries across the Indo-Pacific.
In the past few years, several countries have announced their own concepts of the Indo-Pacific. Japanese announced his vision for 'Free and Open Indo- Pacific' )(FOIP) in 2016. US President in 2017, outlined a goal of promoting a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific". Australia elaborated its concept in its Defence White Paper in 2016 followed by the Foreign Policy White Paper in 2017. ASEAN also came out with its ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) in June 2019. Recently, France, Germany, Netherland, and EU have also released their own Indo-Pacific guideline and strategy.
Towards effective promotion and implementation of IPOI, we are in the process to organise Seminar on IUU Fishing, Marine Pollution especially Marine Plastic Debris jointly with Australia and Singapore, Seminar on Conservation of Migratory Wildlife Species including Marine Wildlife and Combating Illegal Trafficking in later this year and 5th EAS conference on Maritime Security Cooperation in September 2021. We are also preparing the Guideline on HADR Cooperation in Indo-Pacific Region and SoPs for Search And Rescue in the region.
We are committed to build upon the convergence of these initiatives with IPOI and work together for peace and prosperity of the region.
As we all know that we have recently passed through the difficult phase of Second Wave of Covid Pandemic. There are lessons and best practices that have emerged in tackling this challenge that all of us can learn from. I hope that we would come out from this difficult time to the new normal.
The Webinar is a good platform to bring together think tanks, experts and other stakeholders to deliberate upon ways and means for effective promotion and implementation of IPOI and related challenges.
With these words, I wish the event a great success. I am confident that the discussions in the event would come up with some useful suggestions and feedback and will facilitate groundwork for an international conference on IPOI to be held subsequently in which participants from different countries of the Indo-Pacific, would be invited.