New Delhi: In recent years, the term “Indo-Pacific” has become widely used to describe the vast geographical expanse encompassing countries around the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, despite its popularity, this description falls short of fully capturing the region’s diversity and expanse. It ignores regions such as the European Union, landlocked countries, and the western coast of Africa, which is an oversight that we must now correct.
Purushendra Singh of CUTS stated during his opening remarks at an event that no single country will be able to find solutions to the existing and emerging non-traditional security threats in the Indo-Pacific region, which we call “Hope of the Future.” Singh offered a perceptive framework for addressing the Indo-Pacific region’s many opportunities and challenges.
The Indo-Pacific region is critical to the global landscape, with 60% of the world’s population, 65% of total GDP, and 67% of the world’s indigenous populations. However, it bears 37% of the world’s poverty and is the site of 40% of international migration. These complexities present a number of challenges that require a collaborative and coordinated approach.
Addressing the root causes of piracy and terrorism is a pressing concern, particularly for landlocked countries like Nepal. Terrorists in maritime terrorism, according to Nepal’s Pramod S. Jaiswal, target critical infrastructure to maximise impact and visibility.
Their attention is focused on key choke points and major ports, which have significant implications for international trade in the Indo-Pacific region. Recent successful collaboration among Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia has significantly reduced piracy through initiatives such as the “eye in the sky” and enhanced security measures, resulting in a drop in hijackings.
To create an environment conducive to policy coordination, civil society organisations (CSOs) should focus on raising awareness among people and policymakers, as well as fostering debates and discussions.
Taiwan has emerged as a critical player in the Indo-Pacific, shifting our focus from landlocked nations to island nations. The country has faced numerous challenges related to climate change and mitigation over the last five years.
According to Kristy Tsun-Tzu Hsu of Taiwan, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the global geopolitical and economic landscape, emphasising the importance of non-traditional security challenges such as food scarcity, natural disasters, economic sustainability, supply chain resilience, and the ability to combat climate change.
Agriculture is extremely important to Taiwan, with political, economic, and social ramifications. The agricultural sector is facing structural and environmental challenges that are disrupting staple crop supply chains.
Taiwan has taken proactive measures, such as its “green and smart agriculture by 2050” initiative. Hsu went on to say that the Ministry of Agriculture has incorporated agricultural production and biodiversity into the National Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan and that the “smart agricultural programme,” which focuses on smart production and digital services, has been implemented.
In light of these evolving challenges, Aman Thakker of the United States delved into the Indo-Pacific strategy, focusing on digitally vulnerable areas. The recent G20 summit focused on data, digitization, and technology for development, with bilateral discussions involving India and countries such as the United States, France, Germany, the European Union, and the African Union.
Non-traditional digital security threats include infrastructure, connectivity, and software, and the United States and India are collaborating with third-world countries to address these issues. The need to upgrade digitalization, particularly in the context of 5G technology, is an immediate major challenge.
Kiran Meetarbhan of Mauritius concludes by emphasising that the twenty-first century is frequently referred to as the “Maritime Century.” Emerging blue economy technologies and best practices are shaping human interaction with the oceans, driving economic growth, and benefiting society.
In light of these critical developments and challenges, it is critical that nations move beyond regionalism and groupism in order to face and solve these complex issues collaboratively.
The Indo-Pacific Civil Society Forum (IPCSF) is hosting this issue-specific webinar. A track-two dialogue forum founded by CUTS International, it is a coalition of civil society organisations (NGOs, think tanks, academia, etc.) that collaborate with government organisations to achieve a shared vision of peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.