December 9, 2022
JAKARTA – Indonesia hosted the first meeting of the Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development (IPFD) in Bali on Wednesday, where regional participants committed to strengthening their ties.
The two-day forum, which closes on Thursday, was attended by ministers, senior officials and representatives of Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) were also among the participants, while observers representing China, France, Japan, South Korea and the United States were also present.
The forum started with a “high-level dialogue” on Wednesday, which produced a 26-paragraph document called the “Bali Message for Development Cooperation in the Pacific” that outlined issues in the region and ways forward.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the Bali Message contained the commitments of Indonesia and Pacific nations to strengthen their partnerships.
“The Bali Message also reiterates Indonesia’s commitment to concretely implement its ‘Pacific Elevation’ vision through technical assistance and more intensive developmental aid,” Retno told a press conference after the meeting.
She was referring to a diplomatic strategy for the Pacific that Jakarta introduced in 2019.
She said Indonesia had long cooperated in development projects with Pacific nations, noting that from 1999 to 2021 the country had given 211 technical and development aid packages to Pacific nations, engaging with some 1,900 participants.
The forum attendees also recognized that climate change-related sea level rise could imperil the livelihoods and well-being of people in the Pacific.
The participants acknowledged that existing baselines and outer limits of their maritime zones in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “shall not be affected by climate change-related sea-level rise”.
According to the document, the participants welcomed Indonesia’s commitment to develop a road map for long-term development cooperation with Pacific nations, as well as its commitment to strengthen engagement with regional organizations such as the PIF and the MSG.
Retno said that as ASEAN chair, Indonesia would push to increase the bloc’s engagement with Pacific nations and regional groups and to implement the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
She said Indonesia would host the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Forum next year and that it would also propose that ASEAN start a dialogue with the PIF, a fellow regional bloc.
“In the context of the Indo-Pacific, there is no other choice for Southeast Asia but to strengthen cooperation with Pacific countries,” Retno said.