Remarks by Ambassador Blake at an Iftar Dinner, Padang, West Sumatra

Governor of Western Sumatra Irwan Prayitno,
Mayor of Padang,
Deputy Chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI),
BPPT Executive Secretary,
Distinguished military officials,Scientists from LIPI,
the Earth Observatory of Singapore and IPGP in France,
Representatives from the Schmidt Ocean Institute,
Captain and crew of the Falkor,

On behalf of the U.S. government, I would like to wish the people of Western Sumatra a blessed Ramadan full of reflection and renewal.  Selamat berpuasa.

It is an honor to join you here today as we celebrate the inaugural visit of U.S. based-NGO Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor to Indonesia as part of the international MEGA-TERA expedition.

Along with many of you, I have just had the opportunity to tour the research vessel and want to reiterate how delighted I am that the U.S.-based, non-governmental organization Schmidt Ocean Institute has provided this state-of-the-art platform for facilitating joint research collaboration between Indonesian and international scientists.

President Obama has underscored the importance of our two countries working together to spur progress and further joint efforts in science and technology.  Given President Jokowi’s focus on developing Indonesia’s maritime sector, the Falkor’s visit is very timely and welcome as our two countries seek to increase joint maritime research.

We are eager to explore and build new government, university, and private sector partnerships, and – with your help – increase and facilitate the number of joint research, education, and training opportunities in the maritime sphere.

Our research institutions have a long track record of working together to address mutual priorities in areas such as health, agriculture, ocean-climate observation, and marine conservation.  We place great value on the relationships we have with LIPI and many other Indonesian partner institutions.

It is hard to imagine anything more important or relevant to this region than the study of the Mentawai Gap and its fiercely destructive potential.  The overarching goal of the MEGA-TERA survey is to help safeguard coastal communities in Western Sumatra by improving our collective understanding of the unpredictable earthquakes and tsunamis that put many thousands of lives at risk.

The U.S. and Indonesia have worked together for decades on disaster risk reduction and response in Western Sumatra and throughout Indonesia.  But high-tech work like the MEGA-TERA project requires customized ocean exploration and research vessels such as the Falkor, which are few in number and high in demand around the world.

This project is a great example of the benefits of international collaboration, of bringing diverse public and private partners together to share knowledge, resources, and expertise in order to investigate problems, and make discoveries that could otherwise not be achieved alone.

So I want to again extend my thanks to the U.S.-based NGO Schmidt Ocean Institute, to the Chairman of LIPI and all of the Indonesian government institutions who played a role in facilitating this project, and to the Principal Investigator Kerry Sieh and Chief Scientists Paul Tapponnier, Satish Singh, and Nugroho Hananto for initiating and delivering on such an ambitious and critically important undertaking.

It sets a great example for future cooperation that I hope we can all continue to build on.  Addressing the world’s most difficult challenges requires not only increasing our own scientific and technological capacities, but increasing opportunities for international cooperation.

We look forward to continuing to take great strides together in the years ahead.

As prepared.