12 October 2023

"Advancing Innovation Through Inclusive Research on Blue Economy” the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors' Conference Highlighted Possible Venues ASEAN Academics, Industry, and Government can Collaborate to Foster Sustainable Blue Economy

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

The 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference was held from 20-21 September 2023 at Universitas Airlangga in Surabaya, Indonesia. Under the overarching theme of the event is “the Role of University Collaboration within ASEAN+3 Framework on Innovation and Industry Acceleration Ecosystem”, the two-day onsite conference was packed with discussion panels led by experts, representatives and practitioners in university-industry collaboration with a particular focus into ensuring the region’s environmental and economic sustainability. The ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference, as a leading cross-regional platform of top university administrators, gained the attendance of 73 participants representing 30 universities from 11 countries across the ASEAN+3 region

In this article, we are highlighting key points emerging from Session 1.2 of the Conference structured around the sub-topic ‘Advancing Innovation Through Inclusive Research on Blue Economy’

The dazzling speakers who took to the centre stage in this session included::

  • Dr. Kusdiantoro, S.Pi, M.Sc, Secretary of Directorate General of Marine Spatial and Ocean Management, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries
  • Dr. Cho Hyunsug, Vice President of the Industrial-Academic Cooperation Group, Daejeon University
  • Professor Dato' Ir. Dr. Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor, Vice-Chancellor, Universiti Malaya


The first speaker to grace the floor was Dr. Kusdiantoro, S.Pi, M.Sc, Secretary of Directorate General of Marine Spatial and Ocean Management, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. Dr. Kusdiantoro drew our attention to the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries’ five strategic policies endorsed in the Blue Economy Roadmap, one building block of the ‘Sustainable Economic Development’ pillar in the Golden Indonesia Vision 2045.

Overview of Blue Economy Roadmap: Challenges and Strategy in Indonesia

As a maritime state, the ocean provides great ecosystem services to Indonesia’s economic development and coastal communities’ livelihood. The right balance between ecology and economy will be the key for Indonesia to unlock prosperity and welfare for the nation as well as the coastal communities.

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In this panel discussion, Dr. Kusdiantoro especially highlighted the ongoing effort in marine protected area expansion, the supervision and control of small islands and coastal areas, and the management of marine plastic waste.

In 2022, Indonesia has achieved the coverage of 29.1 million hectares of marine protected areas. The 2030 target would be to increase the number to 32.5 million hectares, and in 2045, Indonesia aims at having 96.5 million hectares of marine protected areas, accounting for 30% of Indonesia’s marine area. The marine protected areas would cover a variety of ecosystems that would contribute significantly to the economic and environmental sustainability of the country such as seagrass, mangrove, and coral reefs. The number of carbon that could be captured and stored by marine protected areas is estimated to be as much as 188 million tonnes of CO2, and the total value of protected ecosystem assets is expected to reach 333 trillion Indonesian Rupiah per year. Dr. Kusdiantoro stressed that strategic programmes to determine the location of marine protected areas through science and effective management would be vital to the achievement of this target.

His second point drew our attention towards the supervision and control of small islands and coastal areas. Coastal and small islands have fallen under pressure due to economic utilisation with 18 cases of marine space utilisation violation noted for the year 2022. Coastal area planning will need to be carried out in an integrated and sustainable manner to encourage the growth of marine economic centres with supporting infrastructures while preserving the integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems. This integrated planning process is expected to promote marine and fishery centres as the new economic growth centres, improve transportation and logistic infrastructures in the marine and fishery regions, and identify the environmental impacts of land-sea utilisation activities on marine ecosystems.

One of the challenges in marine life conservation is undoubtedly the management of marine plastic waste. Starting in 2022, the Indonesian government has launched a Bulan Cinta Laut or “Love the Ocean Month” programme to raise awareness and lay a foundation for a circular economy to reduce plastic waste. For one month each year, the fishery industry will take part in marine plastic waste collection. The collected plastic waste will be paid for according to the marine product price and will be processed to obtain further economic value. This is implemented with the target that Indonesia will be free of marine plastic by 2024 with penta-helix collaboration between the government, society, academics, business actors, and media to handle the circular management of marine plastic debris.

The balance of economic growth and the sustainability of marine resources will be indicated by the means of ‘Ocean Accounting,’ a tracking tool that assesses the performance of the blue economy over a period of time through the measurement of the extent, status, and value of marine ecosystems and environmental services, and the contribution of the ocean to the economy. Ocean Accounting helps evaluate the impacts of economic activities on the ocean as well as the quality of the marine management policies. However, there are still certain challenges to the implementation of ocean account in Indonesia such as:

  • The inter-ministerial coordination
  • The availability of data and the capacity to collect and conduct data analysis
  • The policy application

Dr. Kusdiantoro stressed that the Southeast Asia region holds great potential for collaboration in the development of the blue economy. Possible areas of collaboration can include knowledge-sharing, capacity-building, and joint research initiatives to advance sustainable practices in sectors like fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, and renewable energy. Sharing best practices in marine protected area management, implementing sustainable fishing methods, and addressing marine pollution can contribute to the preservation of marine ecosystems and the well-being of coastal communities. Additionally, collaborations can focus on establishing regional networks and platforms that facilitate information exchange, and joint investments, fostering innovation and economic growth. By engaging in these collaborative initiatives, the Southeast Asian region can unlock the full potential of the blue economy while ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of its marine resources.

University-Industry Collaboration’s Active Role in Bolstering Daejeon University’s Holistic and On-the-job Learning


Following Dr. Kusdiantoro, the conference welcomed Dr. Cho Hyunsug, Vice President of the Industrial-Academic Cooperation Group, Daejeon University who came to share with participants the frameworks and platforms Daejeon University utilised in forging collaboration with the industry and the local communities.

So-called 'a laboratory of everyday life,' Daejeon University’s ‘3-Way Living Lab’ platform brought together the university, the industry, and the local communities in a quest to find scientific and technological solutions that are appropriate and applicable to the real problems faced by local communities. In parallel with this initiative, Daejeon University operates other platforms and centres that bridge the university to the local authority and the industry for a holistic learning experience for their students and advancement of innovation.

Currently, Daejeon University is running three unique and distinctive support centres, each of which oversees a different prospect of enriching student learning experience and advancing innovation, namely: Daejeon University’s Enterprise Support Centre, Cooperative Support Centre, and Innovation Centers for Convergence (ICCs).

Daejeon University’s Enterprise Support Centre plays a vital role in enabling the university’s research collaboration, facilities sharing, and opportunities for on-the-job training for students from Daejeon University through signed agreements with over 2,000 companies.  The centre also organises an annual exchange event, where representatives from the companies and the university come together to review a year-worth of activities and set the course for future collaboration.

In parallel, the university’s Cooperative Support Centre allows the industry to take a more active role in student’s learning experience through the provision of support for students to secure internships during school breaks and the participation of industry experts in learning programme design.

Lastly, the Innovation Centers for Convergence (ICCs) serves as a cooperation system for the university and companies in the four specialised areas of the university namely: Korean Medicine Bio, Healthcare, Environment Safety, and Cultural Design Technology. The establishment of the centres was supported by the Korean government with a vision that higher education institutions can drive society’s advancement through more than being a provider of education.

Intersectoral Research to Address Sustainability and Community Livelihood in Coastal Malaysia


The final speaker in this session is Professor Dato' Ir. Dr. Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaya. Prof. Hamdi highlighted the research Universiti Malaya is doing in collaboration with the government and the communities in the coastal region of Malaysia to address the sustainability of the communities’ livelihood which relies on the abundance and well-being of the sea. He also touched upon the potential of blue carbon in providing a viable solution to cut down carbon emissions.

Malaysia is among the major producers of seaweed in the world. Seaweed accounts for 43% of aquaculture production in Malaysia in 2021, ahead of marine animal production and freshwater animal production. It is this industry that the coastal communities of Malaysia are relying upon. However, as the industry relies on only one major species of seaweed; diseases, pests, and climate change can leave them in a vulnerable spot. Therefore, researchers of Universiti Malaya are working with local authorities in sampling a wide variety of wild seaweed to produce a new cultivar that would increase the resilience of Malaysia’s seaweed industry.

Universiti Malaya is also actively engaging in the research on carbon sequestration of mangrove forests. Mangroves can absorb four times more CO2 when compared to inland trees and store up to ten times more when compared to their inland equivalence. Researchers of Universiti Malaya are conducting research to determine mangrove forests’ potential in carbon financing and carbon offset.

The impact of research by Universiti Malaya has been translated into a position paper on the blue economy to assist the government on matters regarding the seaweed industry. Universiti Malaya also commits to communicating and working with communities to ensure the implementation of research on the community level, drive improvement in the seaweed industry, and raise awareness on the conservation of marine life in the coastal region.

An Invitation to Connect and Collaborate

In the conclusion of his speech, Prof. Hamdi extended his invitation to fellow universities in the ASEAN+3 University Network to come together for research in the areas relating to the blue economy such as renewable energy, algae, seaweed aquaculture, conservation and management, climate change, waste management, blue economy, biotechnology, and blue carbon.

This concludes our coverage on Session 1.2 of the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference which demonstrated what higher education institutions are capable of in their collaborations with multi-sectoral partners such as the government, the industry, and the communities.
Coming up in Session 2, more academics, industrial experts and governmental representatives joined the panel discussion and shared with us how these collaborations, at the regional level, can lay a foundation for an ecosystem conducive to sustaining innovation and accelerating industry growth.

Stay tuned to the AUN E-Newsletter and the AUN Website for more coverage on the matter.

To find our latest news covering special insights emerging from the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Meeting, please refer to the list below:

Empowering Communities Through Academic-Industry Collaboration: Insights from ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference’s Session 1.1

Explore the Future and Potentials of University-Industry Collaboration in the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference