Charting a Sustainable Future: ASEAN, Japan, and UNDP Unveil Blue Economy Innovation Project

May 14, 2024

Jakarta, 14 May 2024 - The ASEAN Blue Economy Innovation project has been officially inaugurated by the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, alongside the Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN and the UNDP Resident Representative in Indonesia. This ASEAN endeavour is supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP operating out of its office in Jakarta, designed to invite entrepreneurs and innovators from the ten ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste to address challenges and drive progress in the blue sectors, which encompass ocean and freshwater ecosystems.

The project encompasses three primary activities: the ASEAN Blue Innovation Challenge, the Blue Incubation Programme, and Blue Business Matchmaking. Through these initiatives, 60 successful innovators will receive financial support of up to US$40,000 each. They will also benefit from a mentorship programme during the incubation phase to refine and commercialise their solutions within a six-month period. Furthermore, during the business matchmaking activity, winning teams will have the opportunity to present their innovative solutions to business communities, financiers, and investors, thereby gaining access to blue investments in the region.

During the project launch at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn delivers his opening remarks through the recorded video. He mentions that with the ASEAN Blue Economy Innovation project came at an opportune time as the region gears up with the implementation of the ASEAN Blue Economy Framework, “The project seeks to not only improve the economic output of marine sectors but also to enhance the resilience of coastal communities against climate change and environmental degradation. This initiative stands as a testament to ASEAN’s commitment to harnessing the blue economy for regional development, environmental sustainability, and socio-economic inclusion,” said Dr. Kao Kim Hourn.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, H.E. Mr. Satvinder Singh said, “Since the adoption of the ASEAN Blue Economy Framework in September 2023, we continue to make another step forward in our collective efforts to enhance the sustainable use of both ocean and freshwater resources for the economic growth and prosperity of ASEAN people. This pioneering project also further emphasizes ASEAN’s commitment and readiness to take the lead on regional cooperation and economic integration concerning blue economy innovations.”

ASEAN stands at the forefront of the world’s maritime potential. ASEAN also boasts a diverse array of marine resources with an estimated market value of up to US$2.5 trillion per year or five percent of the global economy. Recognising the vast promise of ASEAN’s blue economy, there are numerous challenges that ASEAN Member States must grapple with. Issues like overfishing, habitat degradation, and marine pollution pose significant threats to the region’s marine and freshwater ecosystems. This underscores the urgent need for ASEAN Countries Maritime Potentials May Boost Regional Economy collaborative and concerted efforts to address them.

Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN, H.E. Mr. Kiya Masahiko remarked, “ASEAN-Japan cooperation has just started a new journey toward the next 50 years. Japan continues to encourage ASEAN’s success in this new frontier of blue economy and innovation. I look forward to working with all of you to make this project impactful to the people in the entire region. I am hopeful that this project will serve as a catalyst for further cooperation and investment in this field.”

Aligned with Ambassador Kiya’s message on the importance of collaboration, UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative, Mr. Norimasa Shimomura stated, “collaboration and innovation are key to address the challenges in sustainably harnessing and managing marine and freshwater ecosystems. From our base in Jakarta, we hope that this blue economy innovation project will benefit ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste to expand the blue economy's potential in these countries.”

UNDP has been an advocate for the blue sector on a global scale for more than 25 years. Having mobilised over US$1 billion for ocean protection and restoration across more than 100 countries, UNDP remains committed to promoting a sustainable global blue economy that harnesses ocean and freshwater resources for inclusive development. For example, in Indonesia, UNDP has helped realise the vision of the Government of Indonesia to promote multilateral cooperation with the aim of protecting the marine environment and promoting the blue economy through the Archipelagic and Island States Forum (AIS Forum). Archipelagic Island States (AIS).

The ASEAN Blue Innovation Challenge is open for applications until 31 May 2024 midnight Jakarta time, offering the entrepreneurs and innovators in ASEAN and Timor-Leste the chance to access financial and incubation support from the project in the areas of climate change, marine plastic pollution, sustainable fisheries, and sustainable tourism. Apply through

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984, followed by Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten member states of ASEAN.

About UNDP
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization in fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. Learn more at or follow at @undpindonesia.

Media contact
Mustika L. Hapsoro
Media Officer, Community Relations Division
ASEAN Secretariat

Devi Nugraha (Devin)
Head of Communications UNDP Indonesia