Australia’s High Commissioner said to India Barry O’Farrell that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, Australia and India, must collaborate and address ocean health and aim for developing smart ports through the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
The IPOI was organised by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) in collaboration with Monash University, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia.
PM Narendra Modi had announced IPOI at the 14th East Asia Summit in Bangkok in 2019. The IPOI is an open, non-treaty, inclusive platform for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Australia and Japan have already taken the position on the Marine Ecology and Connectivity pillars, while France and Indonesia have taken up the Marine Resources pillar.
The recent conference in Kochi aimed to strengthen Australia-India relations, especially in shaping maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to support an open, inclusive, resilient, prosperous and rules-based maritime order.
Barry O’Farrell highlighted the need to co-operate in the Indo-Pacific amid the rising multi-polar scenario worldwide.
Deputy Consulate General for South India at the Australian Consulate-General, Chennai, Michael Costa, mentioned Canberra’s plans for bilateral and multilateral agreements with New Delhi. It includes three package initiatives worth $290 billion, including the Bay of Bengal maritime partnership, Bay of Bengal connectivity partnership, and Bay of Bengal energy partnership.
Former Director-General and Vice-Admiral of the Indian Coast Guard, M P Muralidharan, mentioned the pillars of IPOI maritime ecology, security and marine resources, crucial for establishing cooperation between the countries.
Professor of the Department of Marine Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry and Dean, Faculty of Marine Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Dr S Bijoy Nandan, raised concerns about millions of tonnes of plastic deposited into landfills and oceans, instead of getting recycled.
In the session on Smart Ports and Supply Chains in the Indian Ocean, Dr Vijay Sakhuja highlighted the necessity of smart ports, green ports and automation.
Captain Martin A Sebastian highlighted the crime networks in the transportation of illegal goods into Indian ports and the long term efficiency of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in developing smart ports.
The Plenary session, which was chaired by Dr T V Paul, showed the role played by Kerala in trade connections and maritime relations with West Asia, Southeast, East Asia, etc.