During the 7th century, the Srivijaya Empire ruled a large swath of Southeast Asia from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. With thriving trade links extending as far as China, historians describe the period as a time when the archipelago’s maritime history flourished.
Recalling its past maritime glory, Indonesia — the world’s largest archipelagic nation — is ready to be a 21st century leader in the sustainable maritime economy through the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum.
The AIS Forum, which Indonesia created in 2018 with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), brings together both developed and developing nations, which face similar challenges caused by climate change.
They are united in a desire to seek innovative solutions and new partnerships to secure long term sustainable development for their people. For resource-rich Indonesia, the AIS Forum is a perfect vehicle to achieve greater prosperity through the development of a sustainable maritime economy and international cooperation.
This is a vision shared by many island and archipelagic states in the AIS Forum.
Less than a week after the announcement of the country’s new Cabinet, Indonesia is already actively engaging on the international stage through the AIS Forum Summit, which is taking place on Oct. 30 to 31 in Manado, North Sulawesi.
With 28 countries represented, the AIS Forum Summit aims to galvanize commitment to the development of a sustainable blue economy. The summit in Manado will particularly focus on sustainable tourism, which will be the driving force of our ambitious plan to build “10 new Bali” or 10 new international destinations across the nation.
This AIS Forum is part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s vision to turn Indonesia into a world maritime axis, which sees the integration of Indonesia’s economic development with foreign policy and multilateral cooperation.
President Jokowi first laid out this vision in the beginning of his first term five years ago. It is also my vision that through this forum, all AIS members can work together to find innovative solutions to address climate change threats and to boost the sustainable blue economy.
The summit in Manado comes less than a week after Indonesia launched the Indonesian Agency for International Development (Indonesian AID). The creation of the agency strengthens Indonesia’s growing international role as a provider of development cooperation. With the agency, Indonesia will also provide more help to friendly countries and help reduce poverty and inequalities around the world. Both the AIS Forum and Indonesian AID are the major vehicles for Indonesia to contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The objectives of the AIS Forum overlap with many of the country’s top priorities: economic transformation, human capital development and innovation, as well as improved connectivity and infrastructure. As laid out in the President’s inauguration speech, the country is envisioned to become a developed nation with an annual income of Rp 320 million (US$22,700) per capita or a monthly income of Rp 27 million per capita. It’s a vision of Indonesia with a gross domestic product of around US$7 trillion. It’s a vision of Indonesia realizing its optimal potential.
Considering its massive potential, developing Indonesia’s marine economy will transform our economy and generate a sustainable source of greater prosperity. According to the UN Food Agriculture Organization, Indonesia is the second-highest contributor of marine production in the world, and accounts for nearly 10 percent of global fisheries employment.
Renowned for marine biodiversity, Indonesia is also home to the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. The choices that we will make on maritime governance and economy will affect our national development as well as the course of the marine and fisheries industry globally.
Turning this vision into reality requires Indonesia to boost its human capital, allowing the country to capitalize on the enormous potential of its blue economy. It also requires the development of innovative finance to address our most pressing challenges.
Among the innovations coming out of the AIS Forum is the development of blended finance, including blue bond framework, Islamic finance and responsible investments, which will complement the contributions the government of Indonesia and other countries will make.
Indonesia will continue to support the AIS Forum as a key grouping of like-minded countries and organizations to tackle the threat of climate change. Through this forum, Indonesia also strives to protect the ecological rights of small island and archipelagic states that bear the biggest brunt of climate change.
As an active member state of the UN, Indonesia is fully committed to the SDGs and to the “Leave No One Behind” agenda. The AIS Forum and the successful development of a sustainable marine economy will significantly contribute to the achievement of these goals in Indonesia and in all AIS countries.
Indonesia’s ancestors from the days of the ancient maritime empire coined a phrase in Sanskrit, jalesveva jayamahe (our glory is in the sea). Let us invoke the spirit of this message, as we forge ahead as leaders in the development of a sustainable maritime economy.
Coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.