Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA) - The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum has committed to making breakthroughs and pursuing innovative and smart solutions for sustainable oceans.

Since its establishment in 2018 through the Manado Joint Declaration at a ministerial meeting attended by 21 countries, the AIS Forum has emerged as an international partnership for developing innovative solutions for challenges faced by AIS nations. Its membership has increased to 51 nations.

Indonesia will host the 1st High-Level Meeting of the AIS Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali, on October 10 and 11, 2023.

With the theme of "Fostering Collaboration, Enabling Innovation for Our Ocean and Our Future," the meeting is expected to strengthen the forum's role in producing innovative and smart solutions.

The AIS Forum is also expected to be a platform that pushes for global maritime governance.

The upcoming meeting, which will be opened by President Joko Widodo, is expected to be attended by 25 heads of state, more than 30 ministerial-level officials, nine international organizations, and six international non-governmental organizations.

Its goal is to produce a joint declaration by AIS leaders that will aim to establish the forum as a treaty- or charter-based international organization, and one that can produce concrete cooperation programs.

Together with several parties, the AIS Forum has developed several smart and innovative solutions to address four main issues: climate change, the blue economy, handling plastic waste in the oceans, and good maritime governance.

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According to a statement released by the AIS Forum's media team, these innovative solutions have been developed based on reliable data, modern technology, and creative financing mechanisms.

"Our initiative turns big challenges into opportunities for innovation and creative thinking. For instance, the Seagrass Carbon Converter (SCC), which is a web-based application for calculating carbon stocks and absorption in seagrass beds," the team added in its statement.

Developed by the AIS Forum Secretariat in collaboration with the Oceanographic Research Center of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), the application can estimate carbon stocks and sequestration in coastal areas and seagrass beds in AIS member countries.

Seagrass is a green plant that grows on shallow seabeds. It is considered the best carbon sink that can control climate change. Every hectare of seagrass meadows can absorb 6.59 tons of carbon per year.

According to the media team's statement, the SCC uses a formula that uses the biomass value, density, and percentage of seagrass cover to arrive at carbon inventory and sequestration values.

The SCC app is expected to help all parties, especially island and archipelagic countries, understand the potential blue carbon balance of seagrass ecosystems.

In addition, the AIS Forum and BRIN have developed the Carbon Inventory For Seagrass Ecosystem (CISE) mobile application to assist relevant stakeholders in reporting the potential blue carbon balance of seagrass ecosystems.

The app can be used to monitor the levels of carbon produced in certain seaweed areas.

In 2021, a mobile-based CISE application was developed to perform substantive material calculations and made available on Android and IOS.

Next, in collaboration with BRIN, the AIS has also developed the Mangrove Health Index (MHI) app to measure the health of mangrove ecosystems.

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Mangroves are known to help stabilize coastlines and reduce the impact of storm surges and flooding by slowing water movement and trapping sediment.

MHI can help archipelagic and island countries mitigate the impact of sea-level rise.

In addition, the AIS Forum has produced innovative research on monitoring the development of mangroves and underwater conditions to support marine governance and climate change mitigation efforts.

The AIS Forum has also carried out successful joint funding to develop an underwater monitoring tool called ARHEA, or Advanced Drifter GPS Oceanography.

Policymakers can use the ARHEA to monitor and analyze ocean health conditions and obtain data to produce data-driven policies.

Furthermore, the AIS Forum, together with the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas/SAR), has collaborated to develop a training program to introduce Maritime and Aviation Search and Rescue Planning.

The program aims to provide technical knowledge and skills for planning search and rescue operations in the event of accidents, disasters, and conditions that endanger human life.

Participants of the program undergo training to learn how to determine suspected locations, search areas, placement of personnel and equipment from Basarnas, or potential search and rescue needs.

Moreover, the participants are taught about supporting facilities and infrastructure on land, sea, and air; how to build cross-sectoral coordination with search and rescue potential; and how to carry out well-planned final reporting.

"These innovative solutions are useful for application by island and archipelagic countries," the AIS Forum's media team stated.

Meanwhile, the expected leaders' declaration will also aim to bring together the voices of AIS nations to address a number of marine issues that pose global challenges.

The forum is a platform for sharing experiences and best practices in overcoming the four challenges of marine issues, said Jodi Mahardi, Deputy for Maritime Sovereignty and Energy Coordination at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

"The (AIS) secretariat's duty is to support and improve programs from AIS countries to be implemented in other countries. We encourage AIS to become the knowledge center of island nations. This does not yet exist in other international organizations," he added.

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Translator: Yashinta P, Kenzu
Editor: Anton Santoso
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