Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA) - The Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum is a unique collaboration forum established through the Manado Declaration at the AIS Forum Ministerial-Level meeting on November 1, 2018.

If certain international forums gather countries based on economic scale, for instance, developed countries, or having similar political views, then AIS had a different approach.

This forum connects countries based on their geography and challenges. Hence, AIS gathers developed, developing, and even less developed countries spread across the world in one collaborative forum.

For instance, Japan, England, and New Zealand from developed countries to island countries, with a small area, such as Niue, a country in the Pacific, to Sao Tome and Principe, located in the Central African region.

Meanwhile, Indonesia, as one of the largest archipelagic countries and a member of the G20, with the largest population in the world, can share its experience with other countries within the AIS Forum.

Hence, this forum allows all countries from various backgrounds to sit together and discuss solutions for the future of archipelagic and island countries.

The forum aims to strengthen collaboration between archipelagic and island countries regarding challenges in maritime issues that had become a global problem.

These global problems include climate change mitigation and adaptation; the blue economy; marine plastic debris; and good maritime governance.

The forum held its first high-level meeting in Bali on October 10-11, 2023, to strengthen its role as a center for smart and innovative solutions.

Moreover, the AIS forum, which consists of 51 countries, is also a place to accommodate mutual cooperation in pushing forward the future agenda, namely global ocean governance.

Real contribution

The Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment stated that the AIS Forum is not a formal discussion meeting nor promoting big promises.

The forum emphasizes concrete contributions to saving the future of archipelagic and island countries from climate change threats as a global problem.

This effort will be carried out with environmentally friendly practices to support a blue economy that utilizes the ocean wisely and brings a positive impact on society without damaging the marine ecosystem.

One of the examples can be seen in a training to build floating cages in Fiji.

Floating cages, which are commonly known in Indonesia for fish farming, had just been introduced in the Pacific region during the meeting.

Moreover, the use of fish aggregating devices (FAD) has turned out to be something new in Madagascar.

In addition, the AIS Forum strives to accommodate and implement the needs of its members.

Regional offices have also been established in Barbados for the Caribbean region, Central America, then in Madagascar for the Indian Ocean region, and in the Pacific region in Fiji.

As one of the initiating countries for the AIS Forum, Indonesia has committed to disbursing funding of US$5 million for the 2022-2025 period.

In 2019, Indonesia has already disbursed a contribution of US$1 million to establish a secretariat office for the AIS Forum in Jakarta, as an implementation of cooperation and strengthening collaboration between countries.

Building innovation

The forum also emphasized its role in building the capacity of human resources and young innovators.

The UN Agency for Development Programs (UNDP) highlighted that the AIS Forum supports the expansion of 500 start-ups or digital-based micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This assistance is channeled through funding and capacity development, such as training, workshops, and connecting businesspersons with potential partners.

The forum supports MSMEs by facilitating more than 1,500 MSME driving forces, such as women, youth, and people with disabilities, to develop their businesses.

Moreover, the AIS Forum provides a scholarship program, with funding reaching US$430 thousand, followed by research assistance to researchers and academics amounting to US$204,500, and initial capital of US$185 thousand to various start-ups developing innovative solutions as a pilot project for participating countries.

In order to strengthen the AIS Forum’s role as a center for smart and innovative solutions as well as a forum for mutual cooperation for the future agenda for marine governance, the involvement of young people is one of the most important parts of the forum.

The AIS Youth Conference, which was attended by 26 delegates from 26 archipelagic and island states, accommodates ideas and innovation from young people since they are the next generation that determines the future for sustainable fishing solutions, community empowerment, use of new and renewable energy, and waste management innovation.

Moreover, empowerment innovations were born in the forum by utilizing digital applications for monitoring mangrove health (MonMang), seagrass bed carbon conversion (SCC), and developing tools for monitoring ocean health conditions, namely Advanced Drifter GPS Oceanography (ARHEA).

The innovation was not only enjoyed by some parties but was also introduced to coastal authorities in other countries, including the MonMang application in Suva, Fiji, to monitor mangrove land.

According to data from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), apart from Fiji, the MonMang innovation is also used in Germany, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

The AIS forum, which is entering its fifth year, has the potential to become a great power, with the participation of 51 countries controlling a third of the world's sea areas under the national jurisdiction of each archipelagic and island country.

These 51 countries have bargaining power and capacity that will certainly be heard in world forums, such as the United Nations (UN), for their future.

Thus, in future, cooperation at the AIS Forum needs to be improved and continued.

As stated by President Joko Widodo, Indonesia called for the importance of the link between the sea and climate change.

Through these various forums, Indonesia, along with the international community, including countries under AIS, has made a major contribution to providing solutions to various global problems.

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Translator: Dewa Ketut S W, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Sri Haryati
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