AIS Forum Organised the 7th Senior Official Meeting in Suva, Fiji, Calling on the Urgency for Strong and Collaborative Actions within Nations
June 7, 2023
Suva, Fiji, 7 June 2023 - The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum conducted the 7th Senior Official Meeting (SOM) in Suva, Fiji, on 7 June 2023. The event was co-hosted by the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Indonesia, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Held in Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, this is the seventh official meeting since the inception of AIS Forum in 2018. The Forum is an international collaborative platform comprising 51 archipelagic and island nations to accelerate development and combat common challenges in the maritime sector.
The First Senior Official Meeting Outside Indonesia
Having been held six times in Indonesia, this is the first time for the AIS Forum to hold the meeting outside of the country. Jodi Mahardi, Deputy Minister for Maritime Sovereignty and Energy of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia in his welcoming remarks expressed his assurance regarding the meeting.
“We cannot think of a more appropriate venue for this meeting than Suva. Indonesia remembers that Fiji has been among the first countries that supported the idea of creating the AIS Forum in 2017,” said Deputy Minister Jodi. Further to that, he also emphasised on the spirit of solidarity, commitment, and collaboration as a core value in the AIS Forum. As a forum for development and cooperation, the AIS Forum shall play an essential role in helping and overcoming problems faced by archipelagic and island countries around the world. In accordance with that, Honorary Assistant of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Sakiusa Tubuna attended the 7th SOM in his welcoming remarks highlighting commitment to collaboration and solidarity as the basis of cooperative works. Further, he also strengthened the government’s commitment to advancing AIS Forum.
The 7th SOM of AIS Forum was held in a hybrid mode and attended by delegations from AIS member countries, among them are Indonesia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Tuvalu, Bahrain, Cuba, Fiji, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Solomon Island, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Sao Tome & Principe, Cyprus, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Marshall Island, United Kingdom, as well as several international organisations such as Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and UNDP Pacific.
The consecutive meeting was a part of the series of preparatory activities for the first High-Level Meeting of the AIS Forum planned to be conducted on October 11, 2023 in Bali, Indonesia. The series of meetings was called as part of the ongoing commitment of AIS countries to have a facilitated discussion and actions to accelerate concrete collaboration in four key areas such as climate change mitigation and adaptation and disaster management, advancement of blue economy, marine plastic debris, and good maritime governance.
UNDP’s Commitment to facilitate collaboration through the AIS Forum
Also co-chairing the 7th SOM along with the Government of Fiji and Government of Indonesia was Norimasa Shimomura, Resident Representative of UNDP Indonesia. Since the beginning of the inception of the AIS Forum, UNDP Indonesia has actively supported and empowered the forum as an inclusive cooperation among nations. this is part of UNDP’s commitment to supporting governments to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 14 as the core objective of AIS Forum. Shimomura in his remarks highlighted AIS Forum’s continuous work to foster collaboration and enable innovation for the ocean and its future through its programmes.
“The UNDP is committed to and firmly believes that investing in the ocean is an investment for our future. We reaffirm our commitment to supporting the work of the AIS Forum Secretariat to promote the development and capacity-building of AIS countries through its project activities,” said Shimomura.
The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum was established with the aim of fostering collaboration and concrete development cooperation among archipelagic and island states around the world. The forum has become an influential platform for addressing crucial issues among its member countries, such as climate change and sustainable development in the marine sector. In 2021, AIS Forum brought together the voices of archipelagic and island nations in delivering a joint statement at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK.
The Positive Impact of the AIS Forum Continuous collaboration
In the four years since its establishment, the AIS Forum has successfully networked and built partnerships with various parties. More than 200 start-ups and local communities, 75 non-governmental organizations and private sectors, to more than 100 academic groups in various AIS countries have become part of the implementation of AIS Forum programs to date. A number of development programmes under the AIS Forum have also been successfully implemented in various participating countries, such as Fiji, the Philippines, Guyana, Barbados, New Zealand, Jamaica, Malta, Mauritius, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and others.
Some of the positive results from these programs were also brought and presented on the side agenda of the 7th SOM, such as Floating Net Aquaculture and Youth Leadership Workshop on Ocean Governance. These activities were held in various places in Fiji and Vanuatu, from 3 May to 8 June 2023, in collaboration with local organisations such as the Green Growth Institute, Pacific Community (SPC), Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Pacific Island Development Forum, (PIDF), and University of South Pacific (USP). Several innovations from Indonesia were also introduced, such as the Advance Drifter GPS Oceanography Coverage Area (ARHEA) training in collaboration with several institutions from Indonesia, including one of them is MantaOne for Electric Fishing Boat Training from Azura Indonesia, winner of the AIS Innovation Challenge Program.
AIS Forum Handed-over Marine Monitoring Equipment from Indonesia and Filipino Innovators
The AIS Forum continued to work together to develop best practices that may encourage innovative solutions for island and archipelagic countries in facing global challenges. As a platform for concrete collaborative works, the AIS Forum handed over the Advanced Drifter GPS Oceanography Coverage Area (ARHEA) tool to the Pacific Community (SPC), Manta One (Electric Propulsion Engine) to the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) to be replicated for local communities in the Pacific.
Madagascar is Committed to Hosting the 8th SOM of AIS Forum
On June 6, 2023, Deputy Minister for Maritime Sovereignty and Energy Jodi Mahardi, Director General of Multilateral Tri Tharyat, Resident Representative of UNDP Indonesia Norimasa Shimomura representing the AIS Forum Secretariat conducted a meeting with Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, Ratsimandao Tahirimiakadaza prior to the 7th SOM. The meeting discussed on several strategic cooperation between both countries, among them was the AIS Forum. Secretary General Tahirimiakadaza expressed the commitment of the government of Madagascar to hosting the 8th Senior Officials Meeting of AIS Forum. Indonesia welcomed the proposal, with planning to hold the event in August 2023.
The upcoming meeting will be focused on the preparation of the Leaders Declaration Archipelagic and Island States Forum 2023. (*)
Thomas Benmetan, Head of Marketing & Communication for AIS Forum (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Raeed Ali, Pacific Regional Officer for AIS Forum (email@example.com)
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