Indo-Pacific: technical cooperation to operationalise France’s strategy
Over 1.6 million French citizens live in the French overseas territories in the Indo-Pacific region, while three-quarters of the French exclusive economic zone – the second largest in the world – is located there.
France is a fully-fledged country in the Indo-Pacific region and wishes to contribute to providing solutions to the security, economic, health, climate and environmental challenges it is facing. France’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which translates these objectives into concrete action, is based on four main pillars: security and defence, economy, promotion of effective multilateralism, and a commitment to common goods.
The Indo-Pacific is also one of the main priorities of France’s European agenda. A stronger European presence will enhance the response to the issues facing this vast region, where the European Union has already established strong partnerships.
Within Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group and Team Europe, Expertise France implements projects with its partners to contribute to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Security cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region and biodiversity protection are two of the main issues the agency is working on.
With Team Europe, Expertise France is contributing to security cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region
The Indo-Pacific is characterised by its maritime dimension. Maritime transport accounts for 90% of global trade and the oceans are crucial strategic areas to guarantee commercial and energy supplies. Securing maritime routes is therefore a top priority.
Expertise France is implementing two major European projects: CRIMARIO, which aims to strengthen maritime safety and security across the entire Indian Ocean, and ESIWA, which aims to strengthen European Union cooperation on security and defence in Asia and with Asia.
Maritime security issues are by nature transnational and require a coordinated national and regional response. Since 2015, the CRIMARIO programme, financed by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, has aimed to strengthen maritime safety and security across the entire Indian Ocean, by helping coastal countries develop knowledge about the maritime situation.
CRIMARIO has provided all the countries in the region with a reference communication and coordination tool (IORIS). The objective is to offer them a common platform for maritime information sharing and coordination between regional and national administrations and agencies responsible for maritime security.
Another project implemented by Expertise France, ESIWA, has been designed to strengthen European Union cooperation on security and defence in Asia and with Asia. It is financed by the European Union, the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The ESIWA project aims to complement existing dialogues, consultations, exchanges, public diplomacy activities and cooperation with six partner countries of the European Union in Asia: India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.
Under the ESIWA project, Expertise France is implementing the thematic components of cybersecurity and maritime security. GIZ, the German international cooperation agency, is responsible for the other two thematic components (fight against terrorism and prevention of violent extremism; crisis management) and is coordinating the production of the official reports submitted to the European Union.
Biodiversity: focus on the Varuna project
Almost half the biodiversity hotspots are in the Indo-Pacific and deforestation has reached alarming levels. Working with its partners, France is developing actions to protect oceans and forests and give a better understanding of the links between biodiversity and health risks.
The exceptional endemic biodiversity is a strong part of the identity of the southwest region of the Indian Ocean. However, this identity is threatened by the pressure on ecosystems, which jeopardises the services biodiversity provides to people: supply (food, fresh water, energy, medicinal resources), regulation (climate, soil, erosion prevention and pollination) and culture (recreation, knowledge production). Private sector growth plans still take little account of these ecosystem services. The level of preservation of these ecosystems varies greatly from one hotspot country to another and between terrestrial areas and marine areas.
Expertise France, which is aware of these issues, is implementing the Varuna project financed by AFD. Its overall objective is to contribute to preserving biodiversity in the hotspot in the southwest of the Indian Ocean for the benefit of the inhabitants of the region, by raising awareness, building capacities and pooling the efforts of all the public, private and civil society stakeholders.