Author: the_bridge_tank

AUKUS – The Bridge Tank in Conversation with Frank Wisner

Ambassador Frank Wisner, former USA under Secretary of Defense, puts AUKUS in context: a technological grouping of like-minded nations in front of China’s assertiveness, while remaining open to dialogue with China, and collaboration with Europe, India and others.

This conversation was conducted following a webinar, co-hosted by The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center.

The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center co-organized a webinar on: “Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS): A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”

On June 30th, The Bridge Tank and the Maritime Research Center (MRC) co-organized a webinar titled “Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS): A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”. This event aimed at bringing together the defense industry, maritime strategists, policy makers and others, to be able to reach out and build policy priority for the UDA framework both at the national and regional level. The interactions sought to strengthen the User-Industry-Academic partnership and encourage joint acoustic capacity and capability building at the national and regional level.

The importance of this webinar was to discuss the strategic, military and even political evolution of AUKUS 9 months after the creation of this alliance and also how the UDA framework can contribute? The event was planned to entail the participants’ point of view and shared their experiences about the policy issues, technological means, innovative tools and measures, geopolitics, geoeconomics, organizations aspects both nationally and globally.

This virtual round table gathered high ranking guests.

First, the Amb Y K Sinha is an Indian diplomat who belongs to the Indian Foreign Services and is the former High Commissioner to UK & Sri Lanka. After retiring from foreign services, he was first appointed as Central Information Commissioner on 1 January 2019 and was subsequently sworn in as the Chief Information Commissioner of India on 7 November 2020. He opened the webinar by giving an overview of the geopolitical context in the new global order. He highlighted that the security aspect is prominent and it is important to consider it in order to avoid any ripple effect in every sectors. He also mentioned that India is ready to provide support to neighborhood.

Secondly, Dr (Cdr) Arnab Das is an ex Naval officer with 2 decades of active services and PhD holder from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi with specialization in Underwater Acoustics. He has worked on several projects and has a plethora of publications to his credit. Dr Das is the author of a book titled “Marine Eco-concern and its Impact on the Indian Maritime Strategy”, which was supported by the Indian Maritime Foundation and was published in February 2017. He insisted on that fact that the UDA is particularly meaningful given the AUKUS alliance has a strong submarine dimension. Geopolitical evolution and crises remind us of UDA importance. The underwater domain, or even, the maritime domain awareness is rarely debated in international discussions.

Thirdly, Vice Admiral A R Karve is a retired Indian Navy Vice Admiral. Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) were awarded to Vice Admiral AR Karve. He last served as the 27th Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command. His presentation highlighted the strategic aspects of the region. He has highlighted the need to ensure stability in the region face to the expansion of the Chinese maritime influence, in particular the expansion of Chinese submarines. He has also emphasized that several initiatives and tools exist to ensure stability, but that more needs to be done, notably concerning the UDA. He concluded by saying that the AUKUS and the QUAD can contribute to maritime stability and promote the UDA.

Fourth, Mr. Vishal Thapar is the Group Editorial Head at Businessworld. He was formerly associated with Hindustan Times, and prominent news channels CNN-IBN and NewsX. He is the founder-editor of armingindia.com, India’s first portal on the business and politics of India’s defense trade. He gave an analysis of the international agenda, of the solutions to be put forward, particularly in terms of technology, but also, of the Chinese context in the region.

Last but not least, Dr. Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank, concluded the webinar by developing a series of open questions to be raised in further webinars or close door discussions, insisting on identifying the right format to dialogue and the importance of technology to be rethought.

This webinar was conducted by Ms. Malaurie Le Bail, Analyst and program coordinator at The Bridge Tank, in the continuity of the project on the blue economy in the Bay of Bengal. This event was another opportunity to keep the dialogue going on maritime issues and on the Indo-Pacific with the MRC.

This webinar was very comprehensive and educational with high quality exchanges. All the panelists agreed on the fact that the MRC is playing a great role in pushing the concept of UDA.

Please find here the concept note of the webinar for more details.

UN ocean conference: our issue brief on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal: common issues, shared expertise?

On the occasion of the UN Ocean conference in Lisbon, co-organized with the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency are pleased to share an issue brief on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal.

This issue brief is a synthesis of the main report, where we gathered an outcome of a year-long collaborative effort with key actors in the blue economy sector over three interactive workshops with these.

The Bay of Bengal is one of the essential parts of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) based on its high potential for geopolitical and geoeconomics’ views. The IOR is a multi-polar region that contributes to more than half of the world’s GDP and population, with the prime focus centered on the ocean.

Its ecosystems and natural resources form a unique asset for the region’s countries and territories. Therefore, understanding and measuring the economic activity tied to this asset is essential for sustainably growing its affected economies and livelihoods.

The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency (AFD) co-hosted three workshops from November 2021 to March 2022, with the actors from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka to discuss and exchange knowledge on how these countries organize their blue economy strategies.

In particular, the conversation delved into how they define their blue economy strategies and propose solutions:

  • Assess the physical impacts of climate change on the sustainability of coastal and ocean ecosystems and the fishery resource,
  • Adapt to these impacts on the evolutions of coastal ecosystems, social communities and value chains.

With the active participation of various centers from the region, collaborative discussions demonstrated a high level of know-how, technicality and knowledge in terms of collecting information on climate, sea-level rise, fishery resources and implementing projects to address local issues.

Our key points are the following:

  • Common outcomes across the three countries have been identified, which provide a common basis for further discussion and identifying projects with a regional common resource dimension and/or global public good:
    • a large amount of scientific and think tank activity in the region and technical know-how,
    • a major challenge to have these contributions coordinated at the regional level and not progress in a silo,
    • questions on the way research may translate into policy making at the national and regional level.
  • It is necessary to understand how the blue economy is formalized at the national level and how it gets translated at the very bottom level, as well as the regional level. There is no monitoring, verification and transparency tool to support the deployment of an effective and efficient blue economy.
  • What sort of an impact on the larger population will climate transition have on the blue economy policies?
  • The multiplicity of stakeholders is an issue for coordination improvement across the value chain of the blue economy leading to fragmentation of the decision and actions.

Read our issue brief here.

Our board member, Pranjal Sharma presents his book “Stronger Together” to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame

On the occasion of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is being held in Kigali, Rwanda from June 20-25, 2022, our board member, Mr. Pranjal Sharma met with the President of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame. During this meeting, he presented and offered him his latest book entitled “Stronger Together: A Collection of Essays on Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India” co-authored with Mr. Abhilash Puljal.

World Ocean Day: Towards Another, Cooperative, « Indo-Pacific? »

Special report by The Bridge Tank and AFD: Sharing knowledge, experience & tools in the Blue Economy, the example of the Bay of Bengal

CHASING THE ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL SIDE OF THE INDO-PACIFIC

One observes a global trend to focus on the Indo-Pacific, mainly emphasizing security-diplomatic aspects. However, in view of the pessimistic evolution of climate change and oceanic systems, the notions of development and protection of unique ecosystems must be at the heart of the debates in a strategic region, whose shores host hundreds of millions of people, as the Bay of Bengal.

On the occasion of World Ocean Day on June 8, The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency – Agence Française de Développement (AFD) are pleased to share a special report on the rise and positive monitoring of the blue economy in the Bay of Bengal, focusing on Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.

This report is an outcome of a year-long collaborative effort with key actors in the blue economy sector over three interactive workshops with these.

ORIGIN, MOTIVATION AND FINDINGS OF THE REPORT

The blue economy is much debated by policymakers. However, it hardly gathers a scientific consensus on its definition or perimeter of issues, neither in physical nor social sciences. Still, it exists, and seldom are its de facto actors properly investigated or listened to systematically and reported upon in an accessible manner.

We created an arena for dialogue and gathered a catalog of best practices:

  • In a context where the blue economy is also the other facet of security concerns around the notion of the “Indo-Pacific” position, we wanted to provide an open, trusted space of informed speech across the geographies of South Asia and France.
  • Development over shared resources must start with shared data. By collecting the expertise of local actors, we wished to give them a voice to participate in the global awareness of ocean issues. Their contribution unveiled a trove of skills and wills, which is at the origin of our report. First cooperations our exercise led to, give hope on the possibility of joint creation and management of data systems to safeguard fish and coastal resources, to develop sustainable infrastructure and regional scientific knowledge. If at all, one lesson stands out: local centres have more scientific skills and knowledge on their zone of the tropics than global organisations have, and surely the latter can learn a lot from the former on the future of global oceans.

The main objective of World Ocean Day is to raise awareness on collective actions to a larger audience. By sharing our work, we aim to participate in this collective action that supports healthy oceans and its resources, and further strengthen the global impetus to protect at least 30% of our lands, waters and ocean by 2030 (30×30). Read our report here

About the writers: The Bridge Tank is an international, not-for-profit, independent think tank specializing in emerging economies and affiliated to the G20, global industries, sustainable development and global public goods, partnering with the French bilateral aid in this series of workshop. The AFD funds, supports and accelerates the transitions to a fairer and more sustainable world. This collaboration is a part of AFD’s strategic thinking and development and financing interventions in the region.

Joël Ruet participates in a webinar on “COP26 and the Brahmaputra: A New Perspective based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”

Our President, Joël Ruet participated in the webinar on May 5th, 2022 on the topic “COP26 and the Brahmaputra: A New Perspective Based on the Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) Framework”. This is the 5th in a series of webinars organized by the Maritime Research Center and M/S NirDhwani Technology Pvt Ltd.

His participation was an opportunity to continue the conversation on the blue economy started with key stakeholders, such as the Maritime Research Center.

As there are many solutions on « environmental engineering » coming from the global south towards river aspects, in particular from the Indo-African side, Joël Ruet suggested enhancing cross learning in terms of environment and engineering, notably water storage for hydroelectricity, navigation regulation and velocity regulation can have a positive impact on avoiding disasters and protecting biodiversity. At the condition of a step by step learning. The COP26 that dealt about integration of environment to adaptation and adaptation to mitigation towards cobenefits and nature based solutions opened an avenue and Joel Ruet has high hopes for the next COP which will be held in Egypt in November. Thanks to the various exchanges about the Brahmaputra region, he was able to appreciate the vast amount of knowledge that should be shared during COP 27 – “We must learn from the experience of Brahmaputra”.

OpEd: Risky Business: The U.S. Should Rethink Business With Kazakhstan

An article written by our President, Joël Ruet about Kazakhstan’s current and growing challenge to fight corruption that undermines foreign investment and the country’s socio-economic development, was published in the media Entrepreneur.com. He warns that “despite the Kazakh government’s public campaign to attract foreign investors […] it will need to implement fundamental changes, and that starts with taking anti-corruption seriously and honoring agreements with foreign investors. Until then, U.S. investors should rethink the risk of doing business in Kazakhstan.”

The Bridge Tank at the BOAO Forum for Asia 2022: Promote Energy Integration and Build Green World

The BOAO 2022 Forum was held from April 20 to 22 in a hybrid mode, aiming to conduct an open dialogue in a post-COVID world and on the prospects of common development in the world of tomorrow.

Since 2018, The Bridge Tank has participated in the annual “Chinese Davos” event. Our President, Joel Ruet spoke at a high-level panel in the presence of Mr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to China, Mr. Baodong Li, Secretary General, BOAO Forum and former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Mr. Mr. Jizhen Liu, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and Director of State Key Laboratory of Alternate Electrical Power System with Renewable Energy Sources, Mr. Hailiang Song, President of China Energy Engineering Group Co, Mr. Jianhua Hu, President of China Merchants Group and Mr. Haiping Xiang, Chief Engineer of China National Energy Administration.

In his speech, Joël Ruet spoke about the global issues related to energy integration and trajectories. He stressed the importance of “deep decarbonation technologies” in accelerating net zero emissions by 2035-2040. Until then, he added that each country or territory will have a role to play to have its own “transition trajectory”, not only adding renewable energies but also integrating them into the networks with a more rational and efficient use.

Joël Ruet addressed the issue of adaptation, which must no longer be looked separately from other issues. He illustrated his remarks through the example of carbon sinks, which have be created from optimized ecosystems everywhere, not only in forests, but also in savannahs or mangroves.

Dr. Ruet also demonstrated that energy trajectories are already low-carbon, which is particularly the case for Africa and most of the G77 countries. It is important that these trajectories are recognized as such and therefore funded by the North and that technology and know-how transfers are funded accordingly.

In response to the question of how to implement global support to energy trajectories of the global south, the President of The Bridge Tank proposed two solutions: first, allow the South to manage itself with more funding to create local champions, keep the gas trade open to them, and ensure that their carbon sinks are recognized as an incentive to develop them; and second, enable their local financial entities to play a larger role by recognizing that “risks” are over rated there in comparison to actually high profitability.

As in the 2021 edition, Joël Ruet was one of the three French speakers, representing the circle of Think Tanks, alongside Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Henry Giscard D’Estaing, who respectively represented the political and economic worlds.

Read here the agenda of the BOAO Forum 2022.

Analytical report: China’s value chain strategy on cobalt – lessons for EU

Strategic materials are ubiquitous in all sectors relevant for the green economy and the energy transition. Regarding cobalt, it owes its current visibility to its increasing use in low carbon technologies, also called green technologies (renewable energy and rechargeable batteries). Cobalt is used as an input in the magnets of wind turbines, and for the production of the cathodes of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries, which are then incorporated in electric or hybrid vehicles. In the current context of the electrification of mobility, cobalt is therefore regarded as a strategic material. The production of cobalt is however one of the prime examples of the unequal distribution of the earth’s resources, the metal being extremely concentrated in one country: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who represents 70% of global production, and the DRC’s reserved are controlled substantially by what has now become an unavoidable actor in the cobalt value chain: China.

As a continuation of our work on analysis China’s materials strategy, we have developed a report to analysis how China has imposed itself on the cobalt value chain, both upstream and downstream, and has progressively managed to build itself a comparative, if not absolute, advantage. This report aims to conduct a combined analysis of the strategies that have been implemented both by the Chinese government as well as industrial actors in order to gain this hegemonic position on the value chain. These strategies have allowed for the constitution of a resilient and dominant Chinese ecosystem around the cobalt value chain on the international stage.

Read our report here

Side event “From COP 26 Glasgow Commitments to COP 27 Egypt Opportunities: The MENA perspective Confirmation”: participation of our Board Members

On the occasion of the first edition of the UNFCCC MENA Climate Week, from 28th – 31st of March, hosted by the Government of United Arab Emirates, Liberal International, of which The Bridge Tank is a member has organized a virtual side event on 29th of March named: From COP 26 commitments to COP 27 opportunities: The MENA perspective.

The purpose of this event is to tackle the challenges and opportunities stemming from the shared commitment that was agreed at COP 26 in Glasgow, while looking ahead at COP 27 Egypt as an opportunity to increase ambitions. Moderated by the President of the Liberal International, UN High-level climate champion and our Board Member, Hakima El Haite asked a series of questions to each of the speakers.

Among them, our Board Member, Stéphane Gompertz was present in his capacity as former French Ambassador in African countries and Special Envoy for COP 21. He was first asked to give his perspective for the COP 27.

His vision for the next Conference of the Parties reflects the difficulties of raising the climate ambition and maintaining efforts in a context of tensions (COVID-19, War between Ukraine and Russia and War in Yemen). The different crises and current wars shift the priorities of the states and public spending. Money is spent more on wars than for climate action. The political ambitions aren’t now and won’t be as high as it was during the COP 21 and the COP 22. The COP 27, will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, will have the difficult task of pushing the Parties’ effort to:

  • Help to pursuit government and public opinion to have a look in the future.
  • Push for solutions.
  • Continue to promote good practices in the field of adaptation.

Stéphane Gompertz then explained what should be done to keep the 1.5°C? He said that we have to look ahead. States act in the short and long term. Energy is a good example. In a short term basis, countries will use more fossil fuel. In a long term basis, we will see the positive effect on energy policy. For instance, France undertakes nuclear, without it, it won’t be enough effort to commit climate targets. However, the question of nuclear power is again debated in France in this electoral and the War between Ukraine and Russia context. But it is important to measure the risks over time: living with temperatures above 2-3°C or living with an energy mode low in CO2 emissions.

Mrs. Susana Rivero Baughman, who is the Foreign affairs and Cooperation Adviser at the Secretary of Climate Action, Government of Catalonia gave a short presentation of International Liberal’s action to Climate Justice Committee, which has recently adopted a policy paper “Liberal Perspectives on Climate Justice”. Mrs Baughman expressed the lack of actions between climate change and human rights and this is what the International Liberal is willing to do by developing a Policy Lab and strengthening their presence in COPs and international forums. She finally highlighted that the COP 27 will offer plenty of opportunities for Africa.

Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, who is Former Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway, developed an evaluation form the COP26’s achievements. For Mr. Rotevatn the COP 26 was a success for 3 reasons:

  • Finish the Rule Book of the Paris Agreement, which constitutes a common framework among Parties.
  • Increase ambition. Bigger emitting countries increase their ambitions, most countries raise their ambitions in NCDs, the USA are back in the Paris Agreement and we keep the 1.5°C objective alive.
  • Sufficient commitment to increase finance: developing world can have confidence from the financing mechanisms. Industrial countries promise to double their climate finance. Pledges were made and it was well received from most developing countries.

He then explained that after 2 years of global pandemic, we have not lost the long term aspect of the climate crises. He then emphasized that Norway is one of the leading financiers and that the country will double its efforts in climate finance, notably for the preservation of tropical rainforest and mitigation and adaptation. He finally said that pollution tax is a necessary tool for a fair transition and support climate transition at country level, whereas at the global level, climate finance is a necessary tool.

Mrs Rania Al-Mashat, who is the Minister for International Cooperation of Egypt explained what will be the objectives and opportunities for the COP 27 in three messages:

  • The COP 27 is going to be impartial, even though this COP is organized in Africa.
  • Adaptation & resilience will be central and was one of the main outcomes from COP26.
  • Commitment to actions.

Mrs. Al-Mashat emphasized the outcomes from Glasgow, asking open questions that will need to be answered at COP 27.The private sector’s role need to be increased: “We are going from billions to trillions”. It is also important to think about how can we operationalize what it have been pledge. How to derisk green investments? How can we create opportunities for the blended finance? There is not enough operationalize projects financed. How can we leverage from successful countries and to replicate them?

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