Category: News

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.

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?

The Bridge Tank and French Development Agency launch their final workshop on Blue Economy

On March 16, 2022, The Bridge Tank held the final workshop in a series of three with the mandate of the French Development Agency on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka). This workshop aimed at the identification of possible bilateral and regional cooperation with the contribution of the French know-how in the maritime field. It also aimed at open up the conversation to design solutions which the French side could contribute in response to the challenges identified during the first two workshops in collaboration with key players in the Bay of Bengal region.

The discussion was based on 6 main takeaways in terms of needs and gaps identified from the first two workshops:

  • The role of blue economy in the region
  • The role of data
  • Improving coordination
  • Strengthening private and public cooperation
  • Promoting institutional capacity building in front of data collection and coordination
  • Developing pilot projects

This workshop was comprised of three closed-door panels:

Panel 1: Institutional cooperation and ambitions at regional level with the support of French know-how

Moderator: Dr. Joël Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank

  • Dr. (Mrs) Hélène Djoufelkit, Research Director of the AFD
  • Mrs. Runa Khan, Founder & Executive Director of the Friendship NGO
  • Mr. Daniel Fernando, Chairperson, Blue Resources Trust, Sri Lanka
  • Dr. Arnab Das, Executive Director & Founder, Maritime Research Centre, India
  • Mr. Matthieu Piron, Policy officer for international affairs, Directorate for Sea Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry for the Sea
  • Mr. Benoît Gauthier, Head of the Regional Economic Service, Embassy of France in India
  • Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, Director-General, National Maritime Foundation, India
  • Dr. P. Krishnan, Director, Bay of Bengal Inter-Governmental Organization (BOBP-IGO), regional

Panel 2: Developing nationally and regionally viable projects to enhance the value chains of blue economy

Moderator: Dr. Joël Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank

  • Mr. Manish Singhal, Deputy Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), India
  • Mr. Martin Lemenager, Senior Program Manager for Infrastructure, AFD Office in Indonesia
  • Mr. Loïc Monod, Bioeconomy research officer, France AgriMer
  • Mr. Nicolas Vuillaume, Indian Ocean Representative, Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS)
  • Dr. Mostafa A. R. Hossain, Professor, Aquatic Biodiversity & Climate Change, Department of Fish. Biology & Genetics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, consultant with AFD Bangladesh
  • Dr. Arnab Das, Executive Director & Founder, Maritime Research Centre, India
  • Mr. Aruna Maheepala, Senior Research Officer of National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency of Sri Lanka
  • Mr. Shri Aditya Dash, Vice Chairman, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), India
  • Mr. Bruno Bosle, Country director of the AFD Office in India
  • Mr. Reda Souirgi, AFD Sri Lanka, represented by Mrs. Panchali Ellepola, Project Officer
  • Mr. Benoît Chassatte, Country director of the AFD Office in Bangladesh

Panel 3: Enhancing shared resources through a regional network & general conclusion

Moderator: Dr. Joël Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank

  • Mrs. Afifat Khanam Ritika, Research Officer Bangladesh Institute of Maritime Research and Development
  • Mr. Pattabhi Rama Rao, Group Director, Ocean Observations, Modelling and Data Assimilation Group, Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)
  • Dr. (Mrs) Hélène Djoufelkit, Research Director of the AFD
  • Dr. Joël Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank
  • Mr. Jacky Amprou, Regional Director for South-Asia, AFD

 

The spirit of this project is to organize a series of three workshops, co-hosted by The Bridge Tank and the French Development Agency. The first workshop, which was organized in November 26th, 2022, aimed at gathered strategic thinking of the participants ahead of developing a growing interaction between them and institutes and policy makers in the second workshop, in January 21st, 2022.

Read our report here and our executive summary here 

Watch the replay of our workshop here

HORASIS 2022 USA – Biden’s first year, Ukraine, and EU’s leadership

During the 2022 Horasis USA Meeting, held March 4, The Bridge Tank participated in a conference on Joe Biden, the European Union and Ukraine, alongside Esko Aho, Former Prime Minister of Finland, Finland, Michael D. Brown, United States Shadow Senator, District of Columbia, USA, Yves Leterme, Former Prime Minister of Belgium, Belgium, Jed Rakoff, Senior Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, USA, and chaired by Jerry Hultin, Chair, New York Academy of Sciences, USA.

The discussion centered on the American president and his responsibility as the head of a leading democratic state, particularly in light of the war in Ukraine, as well as his potential future actions. How far will the Biden leadership go? What can we expect him to accomplish before the 2024 American elections?

Our President Joel RUET flagged that:

  • Beyond US energy package, there ought to be some joint US-EU effort to quick land green finance,
  • He called for joint technology programs and shared industrial platforms
  • In line with Prime Minister Aho’s view that viewing NATO as an internal lose-win game between the US and the EU, Joel Ruet emphasized this situation has brought opportunities to jointly look at joint security issues, and have NATO evolve from defense to security,
  • In reply to Jerry Hultin’s point on the view the Global South has on Russia’s assault to Ukraine and on China, Ruet mentioned that many African countries feel they have gained much of what they could from China and leveraged on this onto other countries, and that many of them now observe the new set of tools used on Russia, advising the “West” and notably the EU to engage into a conversation on these economic tools with its strategic partners in the South, not to alienate them, and, positively, to mutualise the treatment of the Russia-Ukraine crisis through real global tools,
  • Lats but not least, echoing some concern by shadow Senator Brown, Joel Ruet offered that, even though they differ from one country to another due to history, so called ‘racial issues’ ought to be discusses more globally, not intra-societies.

Watch the full discussion here on our youtube.

The Bridge Tank and French Development Agency launch their 2nd workshop on Blue economy: implementation issues

On January 21, 2022, The Bridge Tank held the second workshop in a series of three with the mandate of the French Development Agency on blue economy in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka). Whereas the first workshop aimed at earmarking new blue economy priorities for various actors and nations in the Bay of Bengal, this second workshop: Blue Economy in the Bay of Bengal – Implementation Issues, aimed to open discussions between experts, policy makers and economic actors to identify gaps and challenges that impede a concrete and efficient implementation of blue economy value chains in the Bay of Bengal region. By linking research and operational approaches, this workshop conducted a collective inventory of data gathering and treatment systems, logistic and financial resources and gaps for sustainable blue economy activities (value chains and social and natural resilience) implementation and acceleration.

This workshop was comprised of two panels; the first panel, open to the public, was dedicated to exploring the importance of data collection towards the improvement of monitoring blue economy assets. The second panel, a closed-door round table, centered on engaging discussion between public and private entities, researchers and implementers towards the implementation of a sustainable blue economy.

Among the challenges identified, the speakers all agreed on the following 5:

  • Lack of information and coordination within countries and in the region;
  • Need for institutional capacity building;
  • Enhance resources (fisheries) enhancement; 
  • Need for increasing public and private cooperation;
  • Need for more regional joint research studies and projects. 

Panel 1: Data collection for improved monitoring of the blue economy’s assets

Speakers:

  • Dr. Shailesh Nayak, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), India
  • Ms. Akshita Sharma, Biodiversity Portfolio Manager, AFD Delhi
  • Mr. Nishan Perera, Blue Resources Trust, Sri Lanka
  • Mr. Abu Saleh Khan, Executive Director, Institute of Water Modelling, Bangladesh

Discussion participants:

  • Dr. (Mrs.) Hélène Djoufelkit, Research Director of the AFD
  • Arnab Das, Director, Maritime Research Center, India
  • Md. Adbul Wahab, EcoFish Team Leader, World Fish Bangladesh Wing
  • Dr. (Mrs.) Chime Youdon, Associate Fellows, National Maritime Foundation, India
  • Saurabh Thakur, Associate Fellows, National Maritime Foundation, India

Panel 2: National framework for improved coordination between public, private entities, researchers and implementers

  • Short presentation of take-aways from experts’ workshops and objectives by Joël Ruet, President of The Bridge Tank & Jacky Amprou, Regional Director for South-Asia, AFD
  • Round table – 5 minutes pitch of projects, initiatives or solutions from each speaker
  • Open discussion across panelists

Speakers and guests:

  • Mr. Shri Aditya Dash, Vice Chairman, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), India
  • Ms. Dharshani Lahandapura, Chairperson, The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Sri Lanka
  • Mr. Khairul Majid Mahmud, Director, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Bangladesh
  • Ms. Panchali Ellepola, Project Officer, AFD Sri Lanka
  • Mr. Ameya Prabhu, Vice-President, Indian Chamber of Commerce, India
  • Ms. Soma Mitra-Muckerjee, Director, Head of Projects, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, India
  • Mr. Pattabhi Rama Rao, Group Director, Ocean Observations, Modelling and Data Assimilation Group, Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS)
  • Mr. Reda Souirgi, Country Director Sri Lanka, AFD

With the participation of the panelists from the panel 1.

The third and final workshop in this series will be held mid-March 2022 and will aim to identify political ambitions in the sector and willingness/possibility of regional cooperation with the contribution of the French know-how in the maritime field.

Read our report here and our executive summary here.

Watch panel 1 and panel 2 of the workshop on our Youtube.r

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