India-France road map on the Blue Economy and Ocean governance (20 Feb. 2022)


India and France are maritime nations with dynamic maritime economy sectors like marine technology and scientific research, fisheries, port and shipping, to name a few. Possessing vast exclusive economic zones, their fate is closely linked to the sea and the ocean.

India and France intend to make blue economy a driver of progress of their respective societies while respecting the environment and coastal and marine biodiversity. Both countries aim to contribute to scientific knowledge and ocean conservation and ensure that the ocean remains a global common, a space of freedom and trade, based on the rule of law.

India and France wish to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal #14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. To this end, they intend to act in line with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Convention for Biological Diversity, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, including the initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, adopted under the International Maritime Organisation. They extend their support to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

India and France are aware that the ocean has suffered the harmful effects of global warming and pollution due to human activities which are manifested mainly through acidification phenomena, increased stress on natural mineral and biological resources, fall in fish stocks, displacement and loss of marine diversity, pollution – including plastic pollution – coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

As underscored in the India-France Joint Statement adopted on 22 August 2019, on the occasion of the visit to France of the Prime Minister of India, “India and France agreed that oceans play an important role in combating climate change, preserving biodiversity, and development, and, acknowledging the link between environment and security, decided to enlarge the scope of their maritime cooperation to address these issues. For a sustainable use of marine resources, the Sides will work towards ocean governance, including through coordination in relevant international bodies. Blue Economy and coastal resilience are a common priority for India and France. In this regard, both Sides agreed to explore the potential for collaboration in marine science research for a better understanding of oceans, including the Indian Ocean.”

India and France underscore that fisheries are a vital economic sector and play a decisive role in food security and livelihood security, particularly for coastal populations. They also highlight that demographic, economic and societal factors have led to an increased global demand for marine products and growing stress on global fish stocks. They thus call for a sustainable approach to fishing that would ensure decent living conditions to professionals of the sector, while conserving the resource in the medium and long terms, taking into consideration the voluntary guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organisation for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication.

India and France nurture a high quality dialogue on maritime security, which enables them to raise strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific. This partnership marks a significant step-forward in India-France cooperation for maritime security.
Further, a MoU was signed between the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MTE) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change (MoEFCC) in 2018 resulting into a working group on environment, which raises pressing matters on climate change, air quality, protected areas and biodiversity, among others. Without prejudice to the aforementioned dialogue and working group, whose ambits will not be affected, India and France wish to develop a new area of cooperation on the blue economy and ocean governance.

India and France are also committed to promoting cooperation between the European Union and India on the blue economy and ocean governance, in the framework of the common roadmap “EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025” and the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Taking into consideration the preceding paragraphs, the Indian and French sides shall adopt this road map so as to enhance their bilateral exchanges on the blue economy and ocean governance.

1. Setting up an India-France partnership on the blue economy and ocean governance

India and France plan to set up an India-France partnership on the blue economy and ocean governance whose scope will encompass maritime trade, marine trade in services, ports, the naval industry, fisheries, ,marine technology and scientific research, ocean observation, ocean modelling and forecasting services, marine biodiversity, marine protected areas, renewable marine energy, marine manufacturing industries, marine ecosystem-based management and integrated coastal management, marine eco-tourism, inland waterways, cooperation between competent administrations on civil maritime issues, marine spatial planning as well as international law of the sea and related multilateral negotiations.

The signatories will ensure that the competent ministries and institutions are involved in this partnership, which will have an interministerial dimension and include, as required, the private sector.

2. Institutional pillar: forging a common vision of ocean governance based on the rule of law

To exchange views on their priorities, share their best practices and support ongoing and future cooperation, India and France plan to organise an annual bilateral dialogue on the blue economy and ocean governance. The dialogue will play a driving role in the formulation, organisation and follow-up of cooperation projects in the four pillars of the partnership: (i.)institutional, (ii.) economic, (iii) infrastructures, (iv.) scientific and academic.

The NITI Aayog in India, and the Ambassador for Poles and Maritime Affairs in the MoFA in France will be contact points for coordinating the organisation of this dialogue and ensuring the involvement of competent ministries.

India and France are attached to international law of the sea and its compliance across all seas and oceans. So as to strengthen international law of the sea and adapt to new challenges, they will coordinate their positions in multilateral bodies and negotiations, whether it concerns the International Seabed Authority, the International Maritime Organisation, regional sea conventions dealing with maritime affairs and where they are both Parties, or the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), among others. They will hold discussions on the development and strengthening of marine protected areas throughout the world, particularly as part of the negotiations on the future biodiversity global framework. They will also enhance their coordination in view of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2022 so as to support the initiation of negotiations for a global agreement on marine plastic waste and microplastic.

More broadly, each signatory will regularly involve the other in conferences, workshops and colloquiums on the blue economy and ocean governance that it is likely to organise.

The French signatory reiterates its invitation for an Indian interministerial delegation to visit France to meet the blue economy ecosystem as soon as the public health situation so permits.

3. Economic pillar: making the blue economy a source of sustainable growth

India and France will make the blue economy a priority in the development of their economic exchanges. They will facilitate contacts between economic actors, business heads organisations, technopoles and maritime clusters of the two countries, cross investments, as well as visa issuance to entrepreneurs active in the blue economy.

India and France are pleased that the “Campus mondial de la mer” in France has proposed to make India the Guest of Honour of the Sea Tech Week in Brest from 26 to 30 September 2022, which will be an opportunity to boost industrial partnerships and blue economy innovations. Given the emphasis on the theme of “Maritime transport: towards smarter and greener solutions” during the Sea Tech Week 2022, the two countries will work closely with their companies in shipping, port management, logistics, dismantling of ships, shipyards, naval equipment manufacturers and other marine manufacturing industries to contribute to the preparations for this event. Both countries can also work together to develop suitable projects to promote marine SMEs and naval construction and the reduction of marine emissions, as well as alternative and cleaner, low and zero carbon marine fuels. The “Campus mondial de la mer” in Brest and the Embassy of France in India, for France, as well as the Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, for India, will be the contact points for preparing for the participation of a large Indian delegation in Sea Tech Week 2022.

The signatories are pleased with the ongoing discussions between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Department of Fisheries of the Government of India, with a view to establishing a programme to support the sustainable fisheries sector in India, and encourage their continuation. Projects in the area of blue economy could possibly be foreseen to not only help work on the sustainable management of fishery resources (and potentially other related subjects such as aquaculture, eco-fishing ports, integrated coastal zone management, satellite observation), but also to build capacity of stakeholders through possible technical exchanges. They are also encouraging further discussions related to green ports with the Indian Port Association in order to promote a more sustainable connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Given French expertise in aquaculture, France and India will work on commercial development of new farming technologies, joint development in the farming of marine organisms for food, and other products such as pharmaceuticals and jewellery, in a way that does not harm the environment. This can include joint development of brood banks, nucleus breeding centers, hatcheries and nurseries, feed supply, and joint studies for prevention of aquatic diseases.

4. Infrastructure pillar: cooperating on sustainable and resilient coastal and waterways infrastructure

India is looking to develop its ports, with a focus on sustainable infrastructure, including eco-fishing ports. In this regard, both sides will encourage sharing of knowledge and methodologies for upgrading current infrastructure, increasing their resilience to climate change, increasing port capacity, developing storage facilities, plug and play infrastructure in the ports, with a special focus on developing ‘green and smart ports’ equipped with sustainable dredging and ship recycling, which is also one of France’s priority areas and involves a zero waste and circular economy approach. This cooperation can extend to equipment development as well for instance on dredging equipment, fishing ships/boats, trawler, spare parts and repair services, undersea cabling and its servicing, ice-making, rope, net gear and marine equipment.

In addition, they will cooperate on developing domestic waterways, which is one of India’s priorities in the field of infrastructure development. This can include Infrastructure enhancement, fairway development, navigational aids, river information systems.

5. Scientific and academic pillar: better knowledge of the ocean to innovate and protect

Convinced that research in marine science and technology is indispensable for monitoring, protecting and sustainably using marine living and non-living resources and biodiversity of the seas and the ocean, India and France will enhance their scientific cooperation as well as exchanges of students and researchers. Physical and spatial oceanography, environmental impact studies, combatting marine pollution, , knowledge and conservation of biodiversity and marine ecosystem and services, genetic biodiversity mapping, generating a germplasm inventory, ecosystem-based approaches, monitoring of fish stocks, fishing techniques, stock enhancement, ocean observation, marine meteorology, deep sea exploration technology, Oceanarium technology or shallow underwater laboratory, in-situ observations of marine organisms, marine energy, could particularly be areas of strengthened cooperation.

In addition, studying the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors on the marine environment, including ocean acidification, pollutions and extreme weather events; coastal risks and resilience can also add to the scientific cooperation between India and France in the domain of Blue Economy and Ocean Governance. Reliable and accurate ocean forecast services are central to all blue economy stakeholders for daily operations, long-term planning and disaster mitigation. Collaboration between operational ocean forecasting centres in India (eg. INCOIS) and France (e.g IFREMER) is envisaged for ocean observations, ocean modelling and forecasting and related capacity building.

India and France will remain fully committed to the Knowledge Summit, organised periodically by France and India to foster bilateral scientific cooperation. The scientific department of the Embassy of France in India and the Ministry of Earth Sciences of India will be points of contact to lay the groundwork for a workshop dedicated to marine science during the Knowledge Summit.

France also wishes to swiftly sendan expert group of scientists in India so as to meet the main oceanography institutes of India like the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), as well as the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management. India welcomes such a visit, whose organisation it will facilitate.

IFREMER, the French national institute for ocean science and technology and India’s Ministry of Earth Science have initiated contacts in order to deepen the cooperation potential, including as part of the Deep Ocean Mission.
CNRS, the french National Centre for Scientific Research, displays its interest to collaborate in Marine biology and Biotechnology, in the frame of the CNRS-DBT agreement, and also possibly in the frame of the Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology, announced as one of the major components of the Deep Ocean Mission proposed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in 2021.

India and France are pleased with the launch of the university and scientific cooperation programme GOAT (Goa ATlantic cooperation in Marine Science and Technology) signed in Brest on 20 January 2020, between the French actors of “Campus mondial de la mer”and the Indian Institute of Technology, Goa. They will support its implementation and facilitate the issuance of visas for the students and researchers involved. India and France wish to encourage student mobility in the blue economy sector and in marine science and technology. They call for the development of partnerships between higher education institutions.

In order to encourage scientific partnerships in marine sciences, the Embassy of France in India will endeavour, from 2022 onwards, to grant five student mobility scholarships in this field. India will facilitate administrative aspects for the implementation of such partnerships.

India and France will seek private funding to establish an R&D Centre to support joint projects and will endeavour to spur and support projects on blue economy and knowledge about the ocean under the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA/IFCPAR).

India and France will encourage scientific cooperation between their research institutions and facilitate administrative procedures, such as visa issuance and authorisations necessary for those involved in research.

Adopted in Paris, on the 20th of February, 2022, in English and French.