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To Strengthen Concrete Cooperation for a Sustainable Future, AIS Forum Held the 8th Senior Official Meeting in Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar, 29 August 2023 – The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum held the 8th Senior Official Meeting (SOM) in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 29 August 2023. This meeting was held under the collaboration of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, Government of the Republic of Madagascar, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Indonesia and the AIS Forum Secretariat. This meeting was the second official event in 2023 and the 8th Senior Officials Meeting since the establishment of the AIS Forum in 2018. The AIS Forum is a global platform comprising 51 archipelagic and island states to encourage development and overcome common challenges in the maritime sector.

The AIS Forum marked a significant milestone as Madagascar became the second country to have hosted an official meeting of this global platform outside Indonesia. The 8th SOM of the AIS Forum took place at the Novotel Convention & Spa Hotel in Antananarivo. Following Fiji’s successful hosting of the 7th SOM in June 2023, Madagascar has stepped up to create yet another successful gathering of minds.

The Meeting was formally opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar and attended by 23 representatives from: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Union of Comoros, the Cook Islands, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of Malta, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, the Republic of Seychelles, the Republic of Singapore, Solomon Islands, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the Republic of Suriname, the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Vanuatu.

The Meeting was also attended by the Minister of Fisheries and Blue Economy of Republic of Madagascar, H.E. Dr. Paubert Tsimanaoraty Mahatante, and observed by the representatives of the Reunion, the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the Indian Ocean Commission, the United Nations Development Programme Madagascar, and the Secretariat of the Archipelagic and Island States.

Yvette Sylla, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, addressed the attendees in her opening speech. She expressed her appreciation for the AIS Forum’s role as a dynamic global platform that has consistently played a pivotal role in addressing the multifaceted concerns of AIS nations. The Minister highlighted the Forum’s impactful work within the Republic of Madagascar, positioning it as a gateway for archipelagic and island nations within the Indian Ocean region.

“In an ever-evolving world beset by multifaceted crises, we face complex and interconnected challenges. Climate change, marine resource conservation, and regional security demand concerted and coordinated action. This eighth SOM of the Archipelagic and Island States Forum presents a significant opportunity for us to counter the environmental challenges we have confronted. In this sense, I reiterate the noteworthy point from the seventh meeting of high officials held in Fiji last June, stating that the collaboration among Archipelagic and insular states must be further strengthened, “said Minister Sylla.

Attended by 23 countries and four (4) international organisations, this meeting was held as a medium to discuss strategic matters related to concrete collaboration between AIS countries. Included in this were the four main focuses of the AIS Forum, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation and disaster management, the blue economy, marine plastic debris, and good maritime governance.

Apart from that, the meeting was held to follow up on the results of the 7th SOM of the AIS Forum in Suva, Fiji, on 7 June 2023. With regard to that, the 8th SOM was driven to the preparation of the AIS Forum first High-Level Meeting which will be held in Bali, Indonesia on 11 October 2023.

Jodi Mahardi, Deputy for Coordination of Maritime Sovereignty and Energy, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia, in his opening remarks, emphasised the importance of AIS countries to strengthen the commitment and solidarity to collectively face the shared challenges.

“Nobody will understand the seriousness and the complexity of the problems that we are facing, better than our fellow archipelagic and island states. And nobody will understand the solutions of our problems, better than the people whose real lives are affected by these problems and have solved them themselves. To further strengthen, expand, and cultivate the benefit of our collaboration, projects, and actions, it is crucial that we solidify and elevate our commitment at the highest level of leadership of archipelagic and island states,” he said.

Deputy Mahardy also emphasised the importance of the Forum as an avenue for archipelagic and island states to contribute to resolution of global problems and magnifying shared voices and concern of island nations.

“This Forum belongs to all archipelagic and island countries in the world regardless of size, location, and level of economic development. It is our hope that we can further cultivate a stronger sense of ownership, desire to strengthen collaboration, and expand the benefits of our cooperation to more communities in other countries and regions,” said him.

Along with Mahardi as the co-chair were Tahirimiakadaza Ratsimandao, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Madagascar and Sujala Pant, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP Indonesia. Secretary General Ratsimandao delivered a statement on how the High-Level Meeting would later become a strategic platform for AIS countries to strengthen its work in various fields across AIS countries.

The AIS Forum remains dedicated to facilitating cooperation and innovation among archipelagic and island nations, with the upcoming First High-Level Meeting in Bali set to mark a historic moment in this ongoing journey.

 

Apart from the 8th SOM in Antananarivo, the AIS Forum also organised several programmes to accelerate the development in Madagascar, more specifically in the Blue Economy sector. A total of six (6) activities were carried out, involving various parties in Madagascar such as startups, the business sector, researchers, MSMEs, women, youth, people with disabilities, and many more to participate and jointly create innovative solutions.

These activities were also held in collaboration with various entities such as the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy of the Republic of Madagascar, Institute Fisheries and Marine Science Toliara, CETAMADA (Organization for the Conservation of Marine Mammals and their Habitat), the NExtA Business Incubator, Antananarivo University, as well as several experts from several universities in Indonesia such as Padjadjaran University and IPB University. Some of the programmes were Sustainable Small-Scale Aquaculture Training in Toliara Province, Blue Innovations Solutions, Bluepreneur Training for Young People in Coastal Areas, Workshop on Innovation in Marine Research and Science and Business Exhibitions in collaboration with local MSMEs. These programmes were held alongside the 8th SOM.

The AIS Forum, in partnership with the Institute of Fisheries and Marine Sciences Toliara, announces the successful completion of a transformative training programme aimed to empower the local communities of Anakao Island in Madagascar. The training was held from August 22nd to 25th, 2023, witnessed enthusiastic participation from approximately 50 attendees.

The core objective of the training was to equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to engage in sustainable fisheries practices, fostering economic growth while preserving the rich marine ecosystems that are vital to the region. With a focus on small-scale fisheries, the programme aimed to enable local communities to achieve long-term environmental and economic sustainability.

The experts were Dr. Alexander Khan from UNPAD (Universitas Padjadjaran) and Dr. Roza Yusfiandayani from IPB University (Bogor Agricultural University) from Indonesia, led the training. Both experts brought a wealth of experience in the field of fisheries and marine science, making them uniquely qualified to guiding participants throughout an immersive learning experience.

The collaboration between AIS Forum and the Institute Fisheries and Marine Science Toliara marked a significant step towards sustainable development in the region. Both organisations are committed to supporting local initiatives that promote environmental stewardship and economic advancement.

The successful completion of this training was just the beginning of a journey towards a more empowered and resilient Anakao Island community. The participants will carry forward the knowledge gained to further develop small sustainable fisheries practices, ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future for both the people and the precious marine environment of Anakao Island.

Facilitating Innovation: AIS Forum Introduced Indonesian Start-ups and Delivered Environmentally Friendly Technology to Madagascar

The AIS Forum in its journey is committed to collaborating with various sectors to present innovative solutions in combating problems faced by archipelagic and island nations. As a pool for concrete cooperation, AIS Forum collaborated with two start-ups from Indonesia, Waterhub and JALA, to demonstrate their technology to the Madagascar public.

Understanding the crucial role that technology plays in sustainable development, the AIS Forum actively seeks to promote partnerships that leverage innovation for the betterment of island communities. Waterhub and JALA, both Indonesian start-ups with a strong commitment to environmentally friendly solutions, joined hands with the AIS Forum to introduce their technologies to the people of Madagascar.

Waterhub introduced a drinking water refill device, an innovative technology that can convert seawater into ready-to-drink water. This is a strategic innovation , as well as a sustainable solution to address clean water distribution problems without the need for plastic packaging, logistics or additional operators. The technology offered is also claimed to be cheaper than spending on bottled water.

On the other hand, JALA is a start-up focused on shrimp farming, where the technology provided is intended to increase nursery production in a more efficient, sustainable, and transparent way. The solution provided by JALA is that they created data that can be used by shrimp farmers to monitor ponds, starting from water conditions, nursery techniques and how to calculate this data to further improve the quality and the volume of shrimp production.

As part of the effort to expand its work across AIS regions and countries, the Forum introduced the expansion of its two initiatives during the 8th SOM, namely the AIS Blue Hub and the AIS Research and Development Center. These two programmes were the development of the Forum’s works that have been carried out so far through the AIS Blue Hub and AIS Research & Development.

AIS Blue Hub: Fostering Innovation and Global Connectivity

The AIS Blue Hub initiative will establish hubs across three regions: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic. These hubs are envisioned as dynamic spaces that will create a new business ecosystem, connecting startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with global opportunities and international talent. AIS Blue Hub’s mission is to enable and empower businesses from AIS regions to expand into new markets, fostering economic growth and collaboration within the international community.

This initiative recognises the potential of AIS countries to contribute significantly to the global economy and seeks to provide them with the resources and networks necessary to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

AIS Research and Development Center: A Hub of Innovation and Expertise

The AIS Research and Development Centre will serve as a hub for academic institutions, non-profit organisations, and industry partners to collaborate on research initiatives, disseminate knowledge, share resources, and offer their expertise. This Research and Development Centre will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, increase research efficiency, and encourage the development of cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions to tackle pressing problems faced by AIS countries.

Both ground-breaking initiatives were introduced during SOM 8 and will be presented to country leaders at the upcoming AIS Forum Summit. DRR Pant, when presenting these two initiatives, stated that these two development programmes would play an active role in strengthening the work of the AIS forum in AIS countries.

“AIS Forum recognizes the importance of driving innovation and translating it into concrete actions. In this spirit, the AIS Forum established the AIS Blue Hub and the AIS Research and Development Centre which not only function as catalysts for economic growth but also as a forum to cater young people to turn ideas into reality. The aim is clear – to promote sustainable solutions among archipelagic and island nations. By combining our expertise, AIS Forum can magnify its impact and find solutions that can be adapted to diverse island contexts,” said DRR Pant.

Aside from contributed in the substantive discussions and promoting concrete initiatives during the meeting of the senior officials, the representative of AIS Forum participating countries attended meeting in Antananarivo also had the opportunity to partake in cultural visits to Rova Manjakamiadana, a significant cultural site deeply rooted in the history of the Republic of Madagascar. This visit on August 30, 2023, was a complementary component of the 8th SOM AIS Forum in Antananarivo, providing a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the host country.

As the AIS Forum geared up for its upcoming High-Level Meeting, it remains steadfast in its mission to inspire sustainable solutions and foster collaboration among archipelagic and island nations.

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After a sideline discussion at the Ocean Conference 2017 in New York City and a follow-up Conference on the Archipelagic and Island States Forum in Jakarta in 2017, a common understanding among AIS participating countries was born. The Archipelagic and Island States Forum was then formally established through the adoption of the Manado Joint Declaration during the first Ministerial Meeting of the participating countries on 1 November 2018.

The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum is a platform designed to include island states and archipelagic countries regardless of their region, size, and development level. A global initiative that brings together 51 archipelagic and island nations to take part in a collective forum addressing challenges of ocean resource usage for sustainable economic growth, climate change resiliency, ocean pollution, emergency management, and the enhancement of sustainable fisheries.

 

The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum stands as a visionary platform, purposefully crafted to encompass the participation of 51 diverse archipelagic and island nations from across the globe. Its overarching mission is to facilitate a collective forum aimed at addressing the pressing issue of sustainable development. Within this forum, these nations come together to forge international partnerships and foster cooperation in their shared commitment to sustainable development. By uniting their efforts and expertise, the AIS Forum plays a pivotal role in harnessing the collective power of these island states to tackle the environmental, economic, and social challenges they face while striving to build a more sustainable and interconnected world.
Five years after the establishment of the AIS Forum, leaders from AIS countries have agreed to strengthen commitment for collaboration among nations. On 11th October 2023 in Bali, Indonesia, at the First High Level Meeting of the AIS Foru,, 32 AIS countries agreed to adopt the Leaders’ Declaration on the Solidarity of the Archipelagic and Island States. The adoption of this declaration marked a significant step for the AIS Forum to further elevate its position in the global scheme. The Declaration focuses on four collaborative areas, which are:

Our Team offers an insightful glimpse into the exceptional individuals who comprise the driving force behind the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum. These dedicated professionals work cohesively to realize our mission and objectives. The AIS Forum, as a platform, is thoughtfully designed to incorporate the active participation of 51 archipelagic and island states from various corners of the world, uniting them within a collective forum to address the critical concerns of sustainable development.

The AIS Forum’s role is to facilitate close cooperation between archipelagic and island states in its four working areas. The forum has fostered connections and collaborative projects through its partnerships with private enterprises, government authorities, universities, NGOs, media and global or regional organisations. This approach aims to create a network of experts, researchers and policymakers who can provide insight and support to the AIS programme.

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