Opening Speech by the EU Ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Vincent Guérend
at the "Our Ocean" Short Story Contest Award Ceremony
Jakarta, 28 March 2018
Dear Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries,
Dear winners of the competition,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ocean is our life-blood. It is Our Ocean because it belongs to all of us. We all have a responsibility to preserve what is common to all of us.
The damage we are doing to our oceans is both an attack and an act of self-harm.
When oceans rise, cities vanish.
When they are depleted of fish, people starve.
When they are filled with plastics, the life in them chokes and dies.
If life in the oceans becomes extinct, our life on land will swiftly follow as you will read in some of the wonderful winning stories.
And yet, we take our seas for granted as if their wealth was endless and dump anything in them as if they were a bottomless pit.
So we have a lot of work to do.
The 4th edition of "Our Ocean" Conference hosted by the EU in Malta last year was not about empty promises but commitments, which were undertaken by politicians, business leaders, NGOs and academics.
Participants from 112 countries and from 6 continents committed 6 billion euro to save our ocean, our life-blood.
It is certainly not a coincidence if after the EU, Indonesia is hosting the next edition of the "Our Ocean" conference, in Bali, next October. It shows also that the EU and Indonesia share a common approach on Oceans, as on many other global issues.
Our main challenge is not technology or money. Yes we need both, but we can get there. Our main challenge is awareness, collective behavioural change, and governance.
We have to increase awareness of the impact that our daily choices are having on our planet's blue lungs.
For that reason we organised a short story competition for young Indonesian writers to make them actors of change in the quest to raise awareness about the oceans in Indonesia.
We were overwhelmed by the number of entries, from writers as young as 12 years old! And we have one of them today, Putu from Yogyakarta as the second best story. Together with Gabriella and Alexa, they are our top medallists.
Let me thank all those who entered the competition and in particular the 10 winners who are receiving their prize today. Another reason to be satisfied is that they are all women and girls. My gratitude goes also to the members of the jury who read and selected the winning stories.
As you will read in my foreword to the compilation, I have been touched by stories which take place on islands and in cities that we all know well — Lombok, Bali and Jakarta — and by the fantasy and sub-marine worlds populated by mermaids, plastic bags or "merfolks".
What do these stories tell us? It is time to act to protect our oceans!