In the Zone 2017: The Blue Zone

Monday 2 October 2017 | Beaumonde on The Point, Perth

Since its launch at The University of Western Australia in 2009, In the Zone has been challenging and changing perspectives. The conference encouraged Western Australians in particular who had long-defined themselves by their isolation from their counterparts on the East Coast of Australia to look North and realise that far from being isolated, they shared the same time zone as Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila and Beijing. In a few hours’ bandwidth lay 60 per cent of the world’s population and much of its economic opportunity. At the same time, the series of conferences made the case to Asian nations that Australia was not merely part of an isolated and indistinct ‘Oceania’ but increasingly an important partner in Asia.

In recent years, the focus of the forum has shifted to a shared effort on the part of Australia and its partners in the region to address common challenges. In 2016 In the Zone was held in Jakarta and focused on food security with the support of the Sixth President of the Republic of Indonesia, Dr Susiulo Bambang Yudhoyono who holds a PhD in agricultural economics and serves as a Distinguished Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre.

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That conference made that case that the challenges of growing demand, demographic changes, and climate change on the region’s food supply could not be met by any country alone and mandated a regional response addressing investment, innovation, and international cooperation in agriculture. This year’s conference here in Perth highlights the absolute necessity for countries in the Indo-Pacific to work together to understand and address ‘The Blue Zone: Resources, Environment, and Security in the Indo-Pacific Maritime Realm’.

In this endeavour, the Perth USAsia Centre has been delighted to collaborate with Knowledge Society to produce a forward-looking series of analytic assessments related to the primary focus of our annual In the Zone conferences. This series is appropriately titled Horizon and last year through the combination of in-depth research, cutting-edge graphics and insightful analysis that has come to characterise their work, Knowledge Society’s Elena Douglas and her team produced a compelling assessment of the data behind food security in the region that was a clear call to action.

In 2017, we were delighted to once again work with Knowledge Society to examine the interplay between fisheries, energy, environment, and security in the Indo-Pacific Maritime Realm. We trust that the data and analysis contained in this year’s Horizon report on ‘The Blue Zone’ will inform our discussions at the conference and inspire concerted collective action among individuals, institutions and nations in the Indo-Pacific.

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