Remarks by Ambassador Blake on Maritime Observation Collaboration

Minister Indroyono Soesilo (if present),
Director General of BMKG – Pak Andi Eka Sakya,
Director General of BPPT – Pak Unggul Priyanto (if present),
Colleagues from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
Distinguished Indonesian officials, scientists, researchers, and students

It has been just over a month since I saw many of you at the launch ceremony for the Baruna Jaya I research vessel.  And it is great to see you again now as we celebrate the ship’s return and the successful conclusion of the latest joint mission to improve our cooperation and understanding of ocean-climate variability and its profound effects.

I am looking forward to learning more today from our U.S. and Indonesian experts on the highlights of your journey and work together over the last several weeks.

The U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership emphasizes environmental and scientific collaboration. Under the umbrella of our bilateral Science and Technology Agreement, the U.S. and Indonesia have committed to strengthening and deepening our scientific engagement through government to government and people to people ties.

This latest expedition builds on years of strong U.S.-Indonesia cooperation in maritime climate observation, and is a great example of mutually beneficial science and technology cooperation.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s mission is to take the pulse of the planet, especially the atmosphere and the ocean, and to put environmental data into the hands of those who need it.

Partnerships between NOAA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and counterpart agencies such as BMKG, BPPT, KKP, and others,  advance Indonesia’s maritime nexus ambitions and support the U.S. commitment to preserving our oceans for future generations.

I understand that BMKG, BPPT and NOAA experts will meet in August in Bandung to review the results of this cruise and plan for another one next year.  This will mark NOAA’s 10th Annual Workshop in Indonesia for Ocean-Climate Observations, Analysis and Applications to benefit Society.

These partnerships are important for monitoring the global oceans to better understand and predict climate change and climate variability, conserving marine biodiversity, mitigating the effects of natural disasters on vulnerable populations through early warning, increasing food security for millions of people through sustainable fisheries, and deterring illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

We live in a world in which food, water, energy, health, and economic development are all connected.

And it clear that climate change is a severe, long-term threat to the livelihoods and food security of millions of Indonesian fishers and farmers.

More variable climate conditions on land are impacting global food crops.

Warmer and more acidic conditions in the ocean are threatening the foundations of the marine food chain, and globally rising sea levels are encroaching on small islands and low-lying coastal areas and accelerating coastal erosion.

The regional network of ocean-climate observation buoys the Baruna Jaya visited in the Indian Ocean, known as the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction or RAMA for short, is critical to forecasting drought and abnormal rainfall for Indonesia and to helping us understand oceanographic processes that affect the climate of other oceans and countries, including the United States.

To predict the future, you have to look below the surface.  This means that monitoring the full ocean water column, not just the sea surface, is necessary to improve climate forecasts.  RAMA moorings have instruments along their tethers, connecting the mooring to the ocean bottom, so are able to monitor the ocean below its surface.

This information 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 the RAMA buoy array has the potential to help Indonesians develop informed approaches to cropping programs, fertilizer and spray applications, seed selection, and stocking rates– all of which can have positive impacts on food security and economic growth here in Indonesia, two of President Jokowi’s central priorities.

The joint ocean climate observation efforts we support today will also benefit science globally.

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.  And yet it is under serious threat.

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.

Progress will depend on high levels of public awareness, education, and communication, and collaboration – which is what brings us here today.

Oceans and climate know no boundaries and enhancing scientific knowledge and sharing data benefits everyone.

Any serious hope of finding and implementing solutions to our greatest global challenges must involve international cooperation and exchange.

That’s why this U.S.-Indonesian partnership in maritime climate observation matters.  Our joint research helps us better understand the complex interactions between our oceans and atmosphere and better predict long-term climate change and its effects.

We are eager to explore and build new bilateral government, university, and private sector partnerships in the years ahead, and – with your help – increase and facilitate the number of joint research, education, and training opportunities, as well as the application of cutting edge technologies, in the maritime sphere.

Again, I want to thank all of you for coming together today as we again reinforce and highlight for a broader audience this mutually-beneficial science and technology cooperation on behalf of our two nations.

Terima Kasih.

As prepared.