Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the Launch Ceremony for RAMA Maritime Observation and Analysis Mission, Jakarta

Acting Executive Secretary of Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Mr. Asep Djembar Muhammad, representing Minister Indroyono Soesilo – who I know is a strong supporter of oceanographic research, and long-standing partner with NOAA, particularly on ocean-climate observation
Chairmen of BMKG and BPPT
Friends from KKP
Colleagues from NOAA
Distinguished scientists and researchers

I am delighted and honored to be invited to speak at this exciting occasion.

Today marks the next phase of a cooperative international effort to better understand ocean-climate variability and how it affects all of us. I want to congratulate BMKG, BPPT, KKP, our NOAA colleagues, RISTEK, and many others for all of the work that has already gone into planning today’s event.

The cruise that is launching today builds on years of strong U.S.-Indonesia cooperation in ocean-climate observation.  It is an excellent example of the kind of mutually beneficial science and technology cooperation called for in our bilateral Comprehensive Partnership.

It also demonstrates the importance of working together to assess and address important global changes and threats – like climate change — that no nation can understand or solve on its own.

With more variable climate conditions on land impacting global food crops, more acidic conditions in the ocean threatening the building blocks of the marine food chain, and globally rising sea levels encroaching on small islands and low-lying coastal areas and accelerating coastal erosion, climate change is a severe, long-term threat to the livelihoods and food security of millions of Indonesian fishers and farmers.

Three quarters of our planet and two thirds of Indonesia is ocean.  Because there is only one interconnected and interdependent ocean, our ocean is the greatest of all of our shared assets. Millions of people depend on it for their livelihoods.

It is an indispensable resource for global food security, given that more than 3 billion people depend on fish as a significant source of protein.

But the ocean is more than that.  It is essential to maintaining the environment in which we all live. It’s responsible for recycling things like water, carbon, nutrients throughout our planet and throughout the ecosystem so that we have air to breathe, and water to drink. And it is home to literally millions of species, particularly here in Indonesia, home to the world’s richest marine biodiversity.

But our ocean is also under threat.  Pollution and unsustainable fishing in one quarter of the ocean, matter to those living thousands of miles away. The connection between a healthy ocean and life itself for every single person on Earth cannot be overstated.

Tragically, our ocean is experiencing degradation at an unprecedented rate and most people are not aware of it.

The bottom line is that most people don’t realize that if the entire world doesn’t come together to try to change course and protect the ocean from unsustainable fishing practices, unprecedented pollution, or the devastating effects of climate change, then we run the risk of fundamentally changing or destroying entire ecosystems, with far reaching implications for all of us.

That’s why today’s cruise and the partnership it represents matter.  Our joint ocean-climate research helps us better understand the complex interactions between our oceans and atmosphere and better predict long-term climate change and its effects.

The regional network of ocean-climate observation buoys this partnership is developing is critical to forecasts of drought and abnormal rainfall for Indonesia and also helps us understand oceanographic processes that affect climate in the U.S.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the world leader in implementing the global observation system for climate, but a global system by definition crosses international and institutional boundaries, with benefits and responsibilities shared by many.

A central aspect of NOAA’s ocean climate observation strategy is to work in partnership with other nations and other agencies.

NOAA has longstanding, productive relationships with many Indonesian institutions and hopes to continue to advance ocean observations, weather and climate forecasting in the Indian Ocean region — in partnership with BMKG,  BPPT and others — building on the strong legacy of support to date provided by Minister Indroyono for our bilateral ocean-climate partnerships.

Such partnerships complement and support America’s commitment to protecting our oceans and to helping Indonesia advance its maritime objectives by conserving marine biodiversity, increasing food security for millions of people through sustainable fisheries, and deterring illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Just as the challenges facing our oceans are global, the science that informs our understanding of the challenges must also be global. We live in a world in which food, water, energy, health, and economic development are all intertwined. Progress will depend on a high level of public awareness, education, and communication — and a high level of collaboration.  Any serious hope of finding and implementing solutions to our greatest global challenges must involve international cooperation and exchange.

Under the umbrella of our bilateral S&T agreement, the U.S. and Indonesia have committed to strengthening and deepening our scientific engagement through government to government and people to people ties.  We are eager to explore and build new partnerships in the years ahead and – with your help — increase and facilitate the number of education, training, and joint research opportunities.

The joint ocean climate observation efforts that we are highlighting today will benefit science globally, but more significantly they will benefit Indonesia and the other countries in the Indian Ocean region affected by climate variability and its impact on agriculture, health, and safety for vulnerable areas and populations.

Indonesia is at the crossroads of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with its weather and climate affected by both oceans.  The RAMA mooring array — which will be expanded as a result of this year’s cooperation– will not only complement other regional networks but in particular will improve the description, understanding, and prediction of the Asian monsoon, which affects the food security and stability of one third of the world’s population, including millions of people in Indonesia.

The information gained from the RAMA buoy array can help better predict and provide earlier forecasts of irregular rains, which can inform decision-making and policy making in ways that directly contribute to the welfare of the Indonesian people.

From small-scale farmers to large companies, the information collected from this array has the potential to help Indonesians make better informed decisions relating to a range of practices, such as cropping programs, fertilizer and spray applications, and stocking rates– all which can have positive impacts on food security and economic growth here in Indonesia, two of President Jokowi’s central priorities.

Again, I am honored to be here today as we again reinforce and highlight the mutually-beneficial science and technology cooperation on behalf of our two nations – cooperation that, together, can help foster the next generation of Indonesian ocean scientists and contribute to BMKG and Indonesia’s efforts to build its modern climate services.

I know our NOAA colleagues are looking forward to working together with the command and crew of the Baruna Jaya I research vessel and in other future ocean-climate collaborations.

Please join me in wishing them all a safe and productive journey.   Selamat jalan!

Thank you.

As prepared.