Indian Ocean Security Conference 2024

Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 February 2024

The importance of moving beyond policy buzzwords toward concrete thinking and action in support of regional interests was a key theme at the Pathfinder Foundation’s Indian Ocean Security Conference in Sri Lanka on 28-29 February.

Dr Arnab Das of India’s Maritime Research Centre emphasised that the importance of underwater domain awareness – which is often raised within a maritime security context – extends well beyond military applications, to include a vital role in environmental preservation. He argued for an Indian Ocean Region-led, multi-disciplinary effort to share information and build a common picture of the Indian Ocean underwater environment.

Dr Richard Jeo from Conservation International brought welcome pragmatism to the conversation, highlighting his organisation’s efforts to develop blude bond investment frameworks that seek to overcome perceived contradictions between environmental preservation and financial interests.

The Perth USAsia Centre’s own Kim Heriot-Darragh drew attention to discrete – but often important – variances in how the concept of freedom of navigation is interpreted by Indo-Pacific states, and speculated about what this may mean for the region in coming decades as regional states increasingly turn their attention to the Indo-Pacific’s waters.

Sri Lanka is pivotal to any conversation about the Indian Ocean’s future, and the Pathfinder Foundation’s conference was a valuable opportunity to convene perspectives from key partners, ranging from Sri Lanka itself to Australia, China India, Singapore, the US and others. We look forward to many more useful conversations to come.

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