Bangladesh is hosting the 13th Intergovernmental Session of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) virtually from 27 to 29 April 2021. Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A K Abdul Momen has inaugurated the 3-day Session on behalf of the host country and delivered the welcome remarks. Mr. Vo Si Tuan, Chairperson of the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific; and Mr. Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary & Assistant Director General of UNESCO also delivered remarks at the inaugural Session. Around hundred participants joined the opening day of the 3-day session.
In his welcome remarks, Foreign Minister has expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all for joining the event amid the ongoing pandemic. While stressing the role of the oceans to the development of human civilisation and recovery from crisis, he reiterated the significance of concerted efforts and shared responsibility for sustainable use of the oceans and also underscored the vital role of IOC WESTPAC in this regard. Dr. Momen appreciated the IOC’s role in encouraging scientific research, technical analysis and synthesis of scientific information needed to effectively address emerging environmental issues.
In his speech, Foreign Minister paid deepest homage to the Father of the Nation, Architect of Independent Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and recalled his leadership for introducing the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act in 1974. He praised the leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in resolving the delimitation of the maritime boundary and attaining undisputed sovereignty over a huge maritime area in the Bay of Bengal, which has paved the way for new marine ventures including marine research, and opened up a new frontier for sustainable ocean economy for Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister expressed his hope that IOC WESTPAC will work as a platform for promoting sustained growth and balanced development through the optimum use of ocean resources. He emphasized on conducting more timely research on the availability, sustainable utilization and exploration of the marine resources that are available in nature. Also, he strongly urged for conducting extensive research on early detection of changes in ecosystem, mitigation and adaptation strategies to combat climate change impact that are based on growing scientific knowledge. He added that IOC WESTPAC has immense potential for maritime cooperation in the region especially on maintaining Marine Biodiversity and Healthy Ocean Ecosystem, Climate Change, Seafood Security and Safety and Ocean Science.
Foreign Minister highly appreciated the endeavour of IOC WESTPAC and requested for more innovative approaches in capacity building programme and sought support for engaging young researchers and scientists of Bangladesh in the ongoing and future research initiatives of IOC WESTPAC.
Foreign Minister thanked the Chair and Vice-Chairs for their contribution in sustainable policy development for ensuring overall ocean economy in the region and wished the session a success through productive discussion.