About the Conference Theme

The Bay of Bengal region has attained renewed attention in recent years with the emergence of the Indo-Pacific (IP) as a significant theatre of geopolitics.  Given its proximity to the Malacca Strait, the region is a geostrategic lynchpin to the securitization of the sea lanes of communication (SLOC). The region is home to around 20% of the world’s population with a combined GDP of 2.7 trillion USD and hosts vast reserves of natural resources which would be a game-changer for the region’s political economy.

For India, the Bay of Bengal is also the regional gateway in our Act East and Look East policies. In March 2022, during the virtual summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Indian PM Narendra Modi emphasised translating the region into “a bridge of connectivity, a bridge of prosperity and a bridge of security”. Given that India has a coastline of 7,500 kilometres, India and the other Bay of Bengal littoral states have common marine-origin issue areas that can be addressed through intra-regional cooperation.

Increasingly, the region is subject to a myriad of challenges on both conventional and non-conventional security fronts. India being the most powerful country regionally and the largest democracy in the world is the lynchpin to the security architecture in the Bay of Bengal. In this regard, rather than a New Delhi-centred perspective, the coastal Indian outlook on the security of both traditional and non-traditional nature is pivotal to fashioning out a national security and defence policy for India.  Here, India must leverage the experience of its Southern Indian states in managing the challenges and opportunities offered by its 7,500 kilometres of coastline.

SESSIONS

Dr Mini Sekharan
Assistant Professor

CUSAT, India

Dr P Krishnan
Director

Bay of Bengal Programme

Ms Sevvandi Jayakody
Senior Lecturer, 

Wayamba University, Sri Lanka

Mr Abdul Hannan Waheed
CEO

Maldives Qualifications Authority

Prospects and Challenges of Blue Economy in the Bay of Bengal

The Blue Economy is a recurrent theme among Bay of Bengal stakeholders. The tussle between environmental sustainability and growth imperative is a domain that the national governments of the region should address through urgent policy initiatives. Marine governance has to take cognizance of rising opportunities and challenges the Bay waters offer while nurturing government-to-government contact at national and sub-national levels. This session will shed light on the following:

  • Leveraging Fisheries industry for coastal development
  • Diversifying the Livelihood options through Blue Economy
  • Enhancing economic development through marine tourism
  • Significance of advanced Smart ports for marine logistics
  • Coastal renewable resources and green energy
  • Challenges of Seabed minin
Dr. Madhu P Pillai
Advisor
CPPR
Sayed Yusuf Saadat
Economist

Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh

Admiral
Jayanath Colombage

Sri Lankan Ambassador to Indonesia

Needrup Zangpo
Executive Director

Bhutan Media Foundation

Gauri Singh 
Deputy Director General

International Renewable Energy Agency

Towards Enhanced Energy Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal

Closer and diversified energy cooperation is key to enhancing economic growth for the countries in the Bay of Bengal. With increased exploration and extraction underway in the region, possibilities for enhanced energy cooperation amidst emerging geopolitical realities in this part of the world need to be discussed. Blessed with abundance of natural resources in the inland and offshore areas of the Bay, uninterrupted flow of energy at affordable prices is important for the region’s growing energy demands. Therefore, it is imminent that the littoral countries diversify energy cooperation beyond bilateral trade of electricity and oil which are the dominating components of energy trade currently in the region.

The session will explore the issue areas of

  • investments in the energy sector
  • potential for renewable energy resources
  • partnership for energy sustainability and capacity building

  • energy diplomacy
  • prospects of grid interconnection
  • the pertinence of the Bay of Bengal region as a conduit of seaborne energy trade.
Dr. R P Pradhan 
Associate Professor

BITS Pilani Goa Campus

Mosharaf Hossain
Director

Administration & Coordination BIMSTEC

Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta
Director, Trade & Investment Facilitation

Mekong Institute

Fostering Regional Development through Trade and Investment

Situated at the global crossroads of international flow of trade, Bay of Bengal has emerged as a prominent subregion globally. The region’s economic future belies immensely on the opportunities it would capitalise on.  Infrastructure development and employment of advanced technologies would enable streamlining such opportunities. Efforts to integrate the Bay of Bengal as a commercial hub are underway with focus both on multilateral and bilateral arrangements within the region. Further, governments and experts must take cognizance of pertinent areas like maritime infrastructure and trade, identification and incentivising key industries, as well as exploring the scope for regional economic integration. 

This session will delve into the areas of:

  • Pertinent of Bay of Bengal in global supply chains
  • Developing Smart ports and quality maritime infrastructure
  • Commercial corridors in the region
  • Connectivity and investment opportunities
  • Security of Sea Lanes of Communication
Sharon Susan Koshy 
Associate, Research

CPPR

SA Naidu
Project Scientist

National Centre for Coastal Research

Ibrahim Naeem
Dir. General of  Environmental
 Protection Agency, Maldives

Harnessing Cooperation for Environmental Sustainability in the Bay of Bengal

This session will focus on the challenges posed by Climate Change and consequent rising sea levels on the political economy and security of the Bay of Bengal. Rapid exploitation of resources, unsustainable farming and fishing practices as well as pollution are anthropogenic activities that challenge the stability and prosperity of the Bay of Bengal. They are also counterintuitive in the fight against climate change which adversely threatens the livelihood and lives of the littoral communities in the region.  The session is intended to address the issue areas that threaten environmental sustainability by strengthening consensus for regional cooperation in the Bay of Bengal.

The session will discuss the following areas:

    • climate change and rising sea levels
    • plastic pollution and marine debris
    • overfishing, IUU fishing, deep sea trawling
    • food and water security
    • Natural disasters and early prevention warning
Prof. Joshua Thomas 
Distinguished Fellow
CPPR
Sanjay Gathia 
Independent Specialist/Analyst

Bangkok

Mohammed Hoodh Ibrahim
Climate Risk Analyst

ADB

Prof Lawrence S. Prabhakar
Advisor

CPPR

Addressing Human Security Challenges through Institutional Mechanisms

The tumultuous security situation in the Bay of Bengal has serious repercussions on human security aspects for the communities in the region. It is important that discussions on security architecture in the region must take cognizance of issue matters that render these communities vulnerable and insecure. Political instability, internal conflicts, socio economic crises, pandemics as well as multidimensional poverty pose threats to the sustainable development and peace and stability of the region. Deepening regional cooperation is a way forward to face many such challenges by fostering government to government as well as multilateral level cooperation. 

The session will explore the issue areas of

  • Migration and refugee crises
  • Human trafficking
  • Pandemic
  • Forced displacement
  • Institutional mechanism
  • Counter-terrorism
Narasimhan Santhanam
 Co Founder & Director 

Energy Alternatives India 

Lamiyah Daraksha 
Project Manager

Technology, BRAC International

Abhijnan Rej 
Director

Tarqeq Research

Tanis Phongphisantham
Technology consultant

Thailand

Emerging Technological Advancements and Innovation in the Bay of Bengal

Accessibility, affordability and productivity of technological advancements in a region is emblematic of its developmental acumen. Plurilateral as well as bilateral cooperation for enhanced partnership in technology and innovation sector would be the key driver for economic development in the Bay of Bengal. It is also necessary that such investments and government-to-government efforts focus on building capacity, transfer of technology, as well as fostering a technology and innovation friendly ecosystem. 

In this context, this session discusses the importance of harnessing emerging technologies for advancements in the Bay of Bengal.

Nahian Sabriet Raza
Researcher, Bangladesh Institute of

Peace & Security Studies (Bangladesh)

V Adm M P Muralidharan
Former Director
General of Indian Coast Guard

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