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ERIA and ASEAN Ambassadors Vow to Enhance Cooperation

7 June 2023

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Jakarta, 7 June 2023: ERIA and ASEAN ambassadors held their annual meeting on the sidelines of the 16th ERIA Governing Board Meeting and pledged to enhance cooperation to address shared challenges presented by energy security, digital transformation, and sustainability in the post-pandemic era.

Dr Cielito Habito, Chair of the ERIA Governing Board, presented the outcomes of the Governing Board Meeting, including the appointment of Tatsuya Watanabe as the incoming ERIA President, succeeding Prof Hidetoshi Nishimura after 15 years of leadership. The meeting aimed to foster networking and collaborative efforts between the ERIA governing board and ASEAN diplomats based in Jakarta.

Robert Matheus Michael Tene, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Political Security Community, delivered an opening speech emphasising the Community's work and programmes. He highlighted ASEAN's close collaboration in overcoming post-COVID-19 challenges through initiatives such as the ASEAN economic recovery plan and the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. Additionally, he emphasised the bloc's pivotal role in regional affairs through ASEAN-led mechanisms, which facilitate discussions on matters of common interest and concern among major countries, aiming to promote peace, stability, and cooperation in the region.

In response, Watanabe, the incoming ERIA President, acknowledged the diverse range of emerging issues including geopolitics, energy, sustainability, and climate change that ERIA must address. He assured the ASEAN ambassadors that under his leadership, ERIA would spare no effort in promoting cooperation with ASEAN members.

During the meeting, ERIA experts delivered three presentations on ERIA's past achievements and ongoing projects. Dr Aladdin D Rillo highlighted ERIA's endeavours to assist Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair, in drafting a statement on strengthening security, the ASEAN Blue Economic Framework, and the ASEAN Services Facilitation Framework.

Furthermore, Dr Intan Murnira Ramli briefed the ASEAN ambassadors on ASEAN Blue Economy, emphasising its role as the new engine of growth and a sustainable economy. Addressing the challenges of carbon neutrality, Dr Han Phoumin, Senior Energy Economist, stressed the importance of sound policies and technologies in ensuring affordable energy access, energy security, and sustainability for ASEAN and the East Asia region.

The Jakarta-based ambassadors took turns responding to ERIA’s presentations and provided valuable suggestions on enhancing the impact of joint programmes. Several ambassadors proposed new ideas for ERIA to conduct research and activities for future cooperation. For example, the Thai ambassador, Urawadee Sriphiromya, suggested that ERIA should undertake more research and work on ageing society and health security in ASEAN.

Concluding the meeting, M.I. Derry Aman, the Indonesian ambassador to ASEAN, expressed gratitude to ERIA for its assistance and work during the ASEAN chairmanship. He acknowledged that the Indonesian chairmanship faces numerous challenging issues, particularly related to food security, regional health architecture, and financial security. However, he reaffirmed the chair's determination to overcome all obstacles and promote ASEAN as the centre of economic growth.

Regarding ASEAN matters, he highlighted the chair's focus on human trafficking and human rights dialogue, aiming to foster peace and stability in the region. Furthermore, he announced that the flagship event during the ASEAN-related summits in September would be the convening of the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum which ERIA is supporting.  The Forum will involve participation from ASEAN, dialogue partners, international organisations, the private sector, and the non-profit sector. The forum's primary focus would be on programmes and activities that promote cooperation for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

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