Australia pledges RM916mil at special summit

MELBOURNE: Australia has announced a total of A$296.5mil (RM915.8mil) in funding to fight climate change and to enhance maritime partnerships in South-East Asia.

This includes A$222.5mil to support climate change resilience in the Mekong subregion, a new A$10mil Climate and Clean Energy Window, and A$64mil to enhance maritime partnerships.

The funding was announced by Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong during the three-day Asean-Australia Special Summit here.

Speaking at the Maritime Academic Conference, Wong stressed the need to build trust and confidence among nations, including the importance of regular dialogue between China and the United States.

“Since I became Foreign Minister, I have consistently reiterated the United States’ calls for open lines of communication with China, and I said it was in all of our interests for those overtures to be met.

“We welcome the resumption of leader-level and military-level dialogue between the United States and China.

“These are important steps on the path towards stability that the region has called for,” she said.

The conference was part of a series of programmes held during the summit, which marked the 50th anniversary since Australia became the bloc’s first dialogue partner in 1974.

On the A$222.5mil funding to support climate change resilience in the Mekong subregion, Wong said this would expand Australia’s maritime cooperation and contribute to security, prosperity and the management of maritime domains within the region.

The new commitments would see more government and institutional cooperation with South-East Asian partners through practical maritime activities, such as conserving coral reefs through the Australian Institute for Marine Science, as well as maritime law enforcement and domain awareness through the Australian Border Force.

Others include geospatial mapping through Geoscience Australia, marine environmental governance through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, as well as marine protection through the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

In a joint statement with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen, Wong said the Climate and Clean Energy Window would bolster efforts on climate change and clean energy in South-East Asia.

Wong said climate change was an existential threat to our region.

“We are working with our Asean partners to mitigate its impacts and accelerate the clean energy transition.

“The new Window is one example of how we are creating opportunity and addressing shared challenges together,” she said.

Australia, said Bowen, was working together with Asean to build new clean energy manufacturing and trade opportunities.

“The A$10mil Climate and Clean Energy Window will assist in building capability across the region to respond to climate change and accelerate the clean energy transformation,” he said.

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