India, France adopt roadmap for partnership in Blue Economy and Ocean Governance

PARIS/NEW DELHI, Feb 21: India and France adopted the Roadmap on the Blue Economy and Ocean Governance as part of which they will set up a bilateral partnership whose scope will encompass maritime trade, ports, the naval industry, fisheries, scientific research and international law of the seas.
The roadmap, adopted during the bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday, aims to enhance partnership in the field of blue economy by way of institutional, economic, infrastructural and scientific cooperation.
Both sides will ensure that the competent ministries and institutions are involved in the partnership, which will have an inter-ministerial dimension and include, as required, the private sector.
As part of the Institutional pillar, the two aim to forge a common vision of ocean governance based on the rule of law. As part of this, India and France plan to organise an annual bilateral dialogue on the blue economy and ocean governance. The dialogue will play a driving role in the formulation, organisation and follow-up of cooperation projects in the four pillars of the partnership: (i.) institutional, (ii.) economic, (iii) infrastructures, (iv.) scientific and academic, an official statement said.
The NITI Aayog in India, and the Ambassador for Poles and Maritime Affairs in the MoFA in France will be contact points for coordinating the organisation of this dialogue and ensuring the involvement of competent ministries.
Both countries are attached to international law of the sea and its compliance across all seas and oceans. To strengthen international law of the sea and adapt to new challenges, they will coordinate their positions in multilateral bodies and negotiations, on an international legally binding instrument under the UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), among others.
They will hold discussions on the development and strengthening of marine protected areas throughout the world, particularly as part of the negotiations on the future biodiversity global framework.
They will also enhance their coordination in view of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2022 to support the initiation of negotiations for a global agreement on marine plastic waste and microplastic.
Each signatory will regularly involve the other in conferences, workshops and colloquiums on the blue economy and ocean governance that it is likely to organise. France reiterated its invitation for an Indian inter-ministerial delegation to visit France to meet the blue economy ecosystem as soon as the public health situation so permits.
The Economic Pillar of the roadmap aims at making the blue economy a source of sustainable growth Both countries will make the blue economy a priority in the development of their economic exchanges.
They will facilitate contacts between economic actors, business heads organisations, technopoles and maritime clusters of the two countries, cross investments, as well as visa issuance to entrepreneurs active in the blue economy.
The “Campus mondial de la mer in France has proposed to make India the Guest of Honour of the Sea Tech Week in Brest from September 26 to 30, 2022, which will be an opportunity to boost industrial partnerships and blue economy innovations.
Given the emphasis on the theme of “Maritime transport: towards smarter and greener solutions during the Sea Tech Week 2022, the two countries will work closely with their companies in shipping, port management, logistics, dismantling of ships, shipyards, naval equipment manufacturers and other marine manufacturing industries to contribute to the preparations for this event.
Both countries can also work together to develop suitable projects to promote marine SMEs and naval construction and the reduction of marine emissions, as well as alternative and cleaner, low and zero carbon marine fuels.
The two sides noted the ongoing discussions between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Department of Fisheries of the Government of India, with a view to establishing a programme to support the sustainable fisheries sector in India, and encourage their continuation. Projects under blue economy could help in sustainable management of fishery resources as well as aquaculture, eco-fishing ports, integrated coastal zone management, satellite observation and also build capacity of stakeholders through technical exchanges.
Both sides are encouraging discussions related to green ports with the Indian Port Association to promote more sustainable connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. Given French expertise in aquaculture, France and India will work on commercial development of new farming technologies, joint development in the farming of marine organisms for food, and other products such as pharmaceuticals and jewellery.
This could include joint development of brood banks, nucleus breeding centers, hatcheries and nurseries, feed supply, and joint studies for prevention of aquatic diseases. As part of the Infrastructure Pillar, both sides aim at cooperating on sustainable and resilient coastal and waterways infrastructure India is looking to develop its ports, with a focus on sustainable infrastructure, including eco- fishing ports.
In this regard, both sides will encourage sharing of knowledge and methodologies for upgrading current infrastructure, increasing their resilience to climate change, increasing port capacity, developing storage facilities, plug and play infrastructure in the ports, with a special focus on developing ‘green and smart ports’ equipped with sustainable dredging and ship recycling, which is also one of France’s priority areas and involves a zero waste and circular economy approach.
They will cooperate on developing domestic waterways, which is one of India’s priorities in the field of infrastructure development. This can include Infrastructure enhancement, fairway development, navigational aids, river information systems. As part of the Scientific and Academic Pillar, both sides aim at better knowledge of the ocean to innovate and protect.
Towards this, India and France will enhance their scientific cooperation as well as exchanges of students and researchers. Physical and spatial oceanography, environmental impact studies, combatting marine pollution, knowledge and conservation of biodiversity and marine ecosystem and services, genetic biodiversity mapping, generating a germplasm inventory, monitoring of fish stocks, fishing techniques, deep sea exploration technology, among others could be areas of strengthened cooperation.
In addition, studying the impacts of ocean acidification, pollutions and extreme weather events; coastal risks and resilience can also be part of the scientific cooperation. Collaboration between operational ocean forecasting centres in India (eg. INCOIS) and France (e.g IFREMER) is envisaged for ocean observations, ocean modelling and forecasting and related capacity building.
India and France will remain fully committed to the Knowledge Summit, organised periodically by France and India to foster bilateral scientific cooperation. Both sides will organize a workshop dedicated to marine science during the Knowledge Summit.
France also wishes to swiftly send an expert group of scientists in India so as to meet the main oceanography institutes of India like the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), as well as the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management. India welcomes such a visit, whose organisation it will facilitate. IFREMER, the French national institute for ocean science and technology and India’s Ministry of Earth Science have initiated contacts in order to deepen the cooperation potential, including as part of the Deep Ocean Mission.
CNRS, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, is keen to collaborate in Marine biology and Biotechnology, announced as one of the major components of the Deep Ocean Mission proposed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in 2021. India and France are pleased with the launch of the university and scientific cooperation programme GOAT (Goa ATlantic cooperation in Marine Science and Technology) signed in Brest on January 20, 2020, between the French actors of “Campus mondial de la mer and the Indian Institute of Technology, Goa.
India and France wish to encourage student mobility in the blue economy sector and in marine science and technology. They call for the development of partnerships between higher education institutions. In order to encourage scientific partnerships in marine sciences, the Embassy of France in India will endeavour, from 2022 onwards, to grant five student mobility scholarships in this field.
India will facilitate administrative aspects for the implementation of such partnerships. India and France will seek private funding to establish an R&D Centre to support joint projects and will endeavour to spur and support projects on blue economy and knowledge about the ocean under the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA/IFCPAR).
India and France will encourage scientific cooperation between their research institutions and facilitate administrative procedures, such as visa issuance and authorisations necessary for those involved in research. (UNI)