Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region began in the fall of 2013 when the US-based Stimson Center partnered with India’s Observer Research Foundation (ORF) to launch a research initiative analyzing the maritime policy challenges and opportunities arising across the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific as these areas emerge as central theaters of 21st century geopolitics. In particular, the project aimed to illuminate the evolving role that the waters, shipping lanes, and natural resources of the Indo-Pacific will play in shaping relationships between major regional and extra-regional powers while also examining the various ways that energy exploration and exploitation, infrastructure development, and environmental pressures will impact the Indo-Pacific littoral in the coming years and decades.
To help frame these issues, Stimson and ORF, in association with the US Consulate General in Chennai, India, convened a three-day workshop, entitled “Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region,” over the course of two related sessions, one in Chennai from June 10 to 11, 2014, and the second in Kochi on June 12, 2014.
The conference brought together senior officials, business leaders, academic analysts, military representatives, and energy and shipping industry experts from India, the United States, Australia, China, Japan and the broader Indo-Pacific region to elucidate the salient strategic, socio-economic, commercial, and environmental trends affecting the region and examine their implications for decision makers. Together, participants engaged topics such as the strategic outlooks of various states, the shifting maritime security risks confronting the region, the existing institutional and legal structures in place to face such challenges, the dynamics of Indo-Pacific maritime trade, rising strains on environmental and natural resource issues, and the role and politics of regional organizations.
The conference provided a valuable venue for policy makers and stakeholders to debate their various interests and priorities, exchange views, discuss mutual concerns, and forge shared objectives. This volume features papers developed at the “Sea Change” conference, presented with an ultimate view to offer practical perspectives on future policy directions, and to spur further dialogue and debate.