The 10th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting
I would like to first welcome all of the participants who have travelled long distances from various parts of Asia to come together here to reinforce the partnerships among Asian coast guard agencies. As we open the 10th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting, I would like to say a few words.
The Nippon Foundation first supported a working-level meeting of representatives from Asian coast guard agencies in 1999, in Tokyo. The meeting was held to explore the possibilities of collaboration among Asian coast guard agencies to address the common challenge they face of piracy. Many more meetings were held thereafter, which led the foundation to launch the first Heads of Coast Guards Agencies Meeting, or HACGAM, in 2004.
In this meeting, representatives from the participating countries took part in active discussions on their shared challenges concerning piracy and proposed a general framework of collaboration to effectively deal with this issue. As an organization that has been supporting this initiative since 1999, The Nippon Foundation is proud to see how much it has grown and become an important part of Asia’s maritime framework.
The significance of HACGAM has grown with the region’s rapid economic and population growth, and has since expanded its scope of discussions to include the topics: Search and Rescue, Environmental Protection, Preparedness to Address Natural Disasters, Preventing and Controlling Unlawful Acts at Sea, and Capacity Building.
Recent discussions held under the five pillars of HACGAM included such topics as the need for partnerships among coast guard agencies to deal with illegal poachers, who have exploited the region’s limited resources because of rising demand for fisheries resources; the need for a regional response mechanism to deal with contamination of the maritime environment caused by increased maritime traffic and the transportation of hazardous materials; and the need for further collaboration among coast guard agency members to strengthen the region’s disaster preparedness and response capacities to deal with a large-scale tsunami and other marine hazards.
Despite such collaborative efforts, major challenges have continued to arise and it is not easy to predict what other challenges may lie ahead. But considering how issues are becoming too complex for any single country to handle on its own, I am convinced that the collaboration of Asian countries through HACGAM will help us meet whatever challenges may come our way.
In order to make such collaboration effective and long-lasting, I believe it should be built on a strong foundation of person-to-person connections. This conviction has been the driving force behind The Nippon Foundation’s work to foster the world’s maritime human capacities through such leading institutions as the World Maritime University. So far we have trained over a thousand people in 128 countries, including coast guard personnel. Already, we are seeing cases where those who were trained are playing active roles in building important maritime frameworks in the Asian region and around the world.
Currently, The Nippon Foundation is considering the launch of a new program for human-resource development. Addressing international problems that emerge at sea is one of our urgent tasks. The program under consideration will aim to equip coast guard officers with a broad policy perspective to complement their extensive technical skills and knowledge. The program will be open to coast guard personnel from Japan and other Asian countries so that a powerful human network can be created in Asia. In order to strengthen Asia’s maritime safety agencies, The Nippon Foundation will continue to support HACGAM from the aspect of human resource development. With stronger regional cooperation, I am confident that we will be able to pass on safe and bountiful seas to future generations in Asia.
Thank you very much.