Bhubaneswar Declaration seeks special fund for IOR region

Bhubaneswar: Recognising the growing geo-strategic importance of Indian Ocean Rim countries, a global conference today unveiled a ‘Bhubaneswar Declaration’ seeking greater regional cooperation to counter non- traditional security threats like maritime terrorism, piracy and environmental and natural disasters.

Recommending creation of a special fund for IOR region to support key sectoral cooperation projects, the declaration urged heads of states of IORA members to participate in summits like in APEC and sought holding of a summit on climate change urgently.

The Bhubaneswar Declaration was made at the end of the three-day International Conference on “India and the Indian Ocean: Renewing the Maritime Trade and Civilisational Linkage”, which had been inaugurated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar graced the valedictory session today.

The declaration covered areas ranging from history and culture and cooperation for energy security to strategic issues, trade, economic and sectoral cooperation.

On Cooperation for Energy Security, the declaration noted that world’s most important oil and gas routes traverse the Indian Ocean with roughly 55 per cent of known oil reserves and 40 per cent of gas reserves.

The aim of a maritime security framework should be to encourage capacity building to deal with maritime security threats, most significantly terrorism and piracy, while keeping commercial shipping, marine installation and critical infrastructures safe, it said, adding switching over to renewable energy should be considered on a priority.

On strategic issues, it said the ‘Indian Ocean Region’ occupies a central position in global strategic land scale and changing security environment of IOR reflects the inter-related geo-political dynamics.

Stating that an understanding of the interactive geopolitical dynamic between Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific is critical in assessing the strategic future of Asia’s maritime spaces, it said the rapidly growing interface between Indian Ocean and western Pacific underscores the need for an inherent Indo-Pacific framework.

“India has pivotal role and responsibility in this regard along with other regional countries,” the declaration said.

In the context of terrorism and trans-national crime, Bay of Bengal sub-region needs special attention and time-bound action plan for cooperation should be in place, it said.

Calamity, disaster and regulations of human behaviour for preventing them needs attention, it said, adding that there is no narrative on geo-politics, institutional cooperation may facilitate the process.

Maritime disputes pose challenges to stability and peace but a legal and technical approach may be relilable for resolution of maritime disputes, the Bhubaneswar declaration said, adding that disaster relief may be addressed through strengthening on institions and cooparation across IONs and IORA should be considered.

Abuot 200 delegates from some 20 countries attended the meet jointly organised by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, organisers said.