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Indonesia Makes History at the Leadership of the AIS Forum

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Indonesia’s leadership in the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum created new history because Indonesia was able to unite island and archipelagic countries within an organization, namely the AIS Forum. This organization is a forum for island and archipelagic countries to unite in managing the sea.

The inaugural meeting of small island and archipelagic countries in the Asia Pacific region took place on November 22 2017 and they agreed to form a forum. A year later, on November 1 2018, at a ministerial level meeting held in Manado, North Sulawesi, the Manado Joint Declaration was agreed. The AIS Forum is part of that declaration.

A total of 22 countries became declarators of the AIS Forum, such as the Philippines, Fiji, Guyana Bissau, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Cuba, Malta, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea. Then there are Saint Christopher Navis, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Singapore, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Cape Verde, Timor Leste, Tonga, and the host, Indonesia. They are island countries and archipelagos located in ocean regions, such as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian.

AIS Forum membership has grown to reach 51 countries after the inclusion of Antigua Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Micronesia, Mauritius, Maldives, Nauru, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Comoros, Solomon Islands and Marshall Islands. There are also Kiribati, Comoros, Palau, Samoa, Saint Vincent Grenada, New Zealand, Trinidad Tobago, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The AIS Forum itself has a secretariat and is based in Jakarta.

Since its inception, the AIS Forum was designed as an open, inclusive forum, and could become a concrete node of cooperation and collaboration for island and archipelagic countries throughout the world. The AIS Forum focuses on four main collaborations in the field of development and maritime affairs, namely developing the implementation of a blue economy ( circular economy ), climate change adaptation and mitigation, overcoming pollution, especially plastic waste in the sea, and better marine governance.

Although most of the AIS Forum members come from low and middle income countries, they are water area owners. Unfortunately, the maritime potential of most AIS Forum members has not been exploited optimally.

At the opening of the 2023 AIS Forum Summit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that Indonesia was honored to host the first AIS Forum Summit. The President believes that AIS is a forum for strengthening collaboration between archipelago countries and island countries connected by the sea. According to him, the sea does not separate land, but rather unites, glues and connects land.

As fellow archipelagic and island countries, regardless of whether they are big or small, developed or developing, we share complex challenges that are interrelated and connected to each other, such as sea level rise, governance, marine resources and marine pollution.

Collaboration and solidarity between island nations and island states is very important to produce strategic, concrete and tactical steps in solving common problems. The 2023 AIS Summit is an important opportunity to set the direction of future collaboration where there are three things that need to be encouraged.

First, solidarity, equality and inclusiveness are principles that are shared. Second, priority on concrete cooperation tailored to the recipient’s needs. Third, a strong and dynamic cooperation framework to face future challenges.

President Jokowi also explained that Indonesia continues to voice the interests of archipelagic countries and island states, both at last year’s G20 Summit, the ASEAN Summit and this year’s AIS Summit. Indonesia is also committed to funding banks to be utilized by archipelagic countries and developing countries. And Indonesia wants to invite all countries present to continue to maintain unity and collaboration, even in the midst of a divided world.

Previously, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan explained that since the formation of the AIS Forum, a number of joint research activities had also been carried out. For example, by involving a number of AIS Forum member universities to develop the capacity of this open forum. One of them is managing the mangrove ecosystem, reducing the impact of plastic waste into the sea, and inviting young people to be involved in healthy and sustainable marine management. Collaboration is carried out to face challenges related to the utilization of marine resources. As well as for sustainable economic growth, resilience to climate change, marine pollution, and others.

Indonesia will produce a positive impact from its leadership. Not only being the founder and initiator of AIS but also Indonesian opinions will be easier to follow. Logically, Indonesia will be able to play a very important role in determining the blue economy movement . It’s all at the AIS Forum Summit. Various development programs under the AIS Forum have been successfully implemented in various participating countries. Such as Fiji, Philippines, Guyana, Barbados, New Zealand, Jamaica, Malta, Mauritius, Solomon Island and Vanuatu.

Indonesia’s current leadership must continue to be fully supported in strategic collaboration between countries in the AIS Forum. There are so many challenges that Indonesia will face, such as vulnerability to extreme climate change, haphazard fishing, pollution in various areas including air, sea pollution and so on, this country must be at the forefront in facing the various existing challenges. It is time for the global community to pay more attention to the issue of the impact of climate change on the sea because the sea is a source of life for the world community. No one should feel that island countries are being ignored in maritime issues and climate change.

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