Keynote speech by the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen Maritime Seminar, Surabaya, 12 March 2020 ‘Towards sustainable and smart port development’

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s an honour to be giving the keynote speech at this seminar today.

This is the fourth day of our visit to your beautiful country, and I’d like to start by thanking you for your generous hospitality.

We arrived in Jakarta on Monday, and yesterday afternoon we came to Surabaya.

In these past few days, I’ve been treated to some of your country’s cultural and culinary highlights, spoken to many people, and seen that Indonesia is engaging with the same issues as the Netherlands, like:

  • climate change and its impact;
  • rising sea levels;
  • fresh water supply;
  • plastic and waste management; and
  • digitalisation.

Although Indonesia and the Netherlands are not neighbours, we have much in common, and I see many good reasons and opportunities for productive cooperation.

This morning we’re talking about Maritime Connectivity & Smart Solutions – a very important subject in a country like Indonesia.

This is the world’s largest island nation, made up of more than 16 thousand islands, home to more than 260 million Indonesians. Its coastline stretches over 55 thousand kilometres and has 1,900 seaports.

Your seaports are hubs, portals of immense value to the Indonesian economy. They connect your 16 thousand islands with each other, and your country with the rest of the world.

But your ports are also essential in connecting Indonesian society. The sea is our friend, and must not be allowed to drive a wedge between the thousands of islands that form your beautiful country.

And that’s why you’re right to have ambitious aims for sustainable and smart port development. Right to be modernising existing ports, and constructing new ones.

This is a major ambition, with global significance. A programme that calls for global cooperation.

In constructing ports, we need to take account of coastal protection and ecological systems. You face the same challenges as the Netherlands. Indonesia is very rightly investing in port infrastructure, IT and smart logistics. In connections with the hinterland and in improving waterways and ships.

Apart from modernising infrastructure, you are also focusing on your shipping fleet. Shipbuilding and maintenance present major opportunities. And there is also demand for maritime education to modernise and professionalise the sector.

I know, with 500 kilometres of coastline and 17 seaports, the Netherlands is slightly smaller than Indonesia. Nonetheless, it’s worth looking at the opportunities that working together offers.

Like in Indonesia, a large part of our economy depends on our strategic location on the sea. The waters of our seaports keep our economy afloat.

The estuaries of the rivers Maas, Rhine and Scheldt are Europe’s gateways to the rest of the world.

The Dutch maritime cluster has knowledge and expertise in the field of inland shipping, ports, offshore industries, fisheries, education, shipbuilding and maritime suppliers. We export this knowledge and expertise to countries all over the world.

And we’re cooperating: Royal IHC is building ships in Batam. Damen Shipyards builds marine vessels together with PT Pal here in Surabaya.

We’re sharing and multiplying maritime expertise and knowledge.

In 2016 Indonesia and the Netherlands signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation and we’ve been working together under its flag ever since. With good reason. Knowledge sharing is a major component of this partnership.

Like during the working visits of KADIN to the Port of Rotterdam and Royal IHC. The Indonesian/Dutch partnerships with Royal HaskoningDHV, Witteveen+Bos developing new sea ports in Indonesia. Or the way Port of Rotterdam is involved in the new
‘Green Port’ concept in Kuala Tanjung.

Every year we hold a Bilateral Maritime Forum. In the Netherlands and Indonesia alternately. At this forum, we look at ways we can help each other in areas like port development, shipbuilding, education and improving intermodal transport on and between Indonesia’s islands. This year’s forum will be held in The Hague in September.

But today, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in Surabaya.

The subject of this morning’s panel discussion was port digitalisation. Of all maritime issues and challenges, port digitalisation is one of the most crucial. Ports can be either accelerators or bottlenecks in the maritime infrastructure.

If we want them to be accelerators, we not only need a robust physical infrastructure. Investment in technological innovation is also essential.

Digitalising the port system. That’s the future. And it makes sense. Because digitalisation is also happening in the rest of our global society.

The opportunities it presents are clear: an interactive system to monitor and manage all port activities, with full control over the entire logistics industry. If port infrastructure is digitalised properly, efficiency, safety and cost-effectiveness will go hand in hand. A major transition, in which the Dutch ports are now fully engaged.

It’s a transition we need to see in the global context of other trends and developments that impact on the maritime cluster. Economic and demographic trends, climate change, changing energy consumption and technological innovation, for example.

These changes pose challenges and present opportunities for the maritime cluster, like access to new markets and trade partners. I see scope for successful partnerships between government bodies, businesses and knowledge institutions that will help maintain our leading position.

This seminar is about exploiting these opportunities. About strengthening maritime connectivity within the island nation that is Indonesia and improving the entire infrastructure. It’s about cooperation to help Indonesia achieve its rightful ambition of becoming a maritime power.

Because – given the size and location of your country – it’s more than logical that international shipping should make full use of your maritime services – for modification, repairs and maintenance.

The Port of Rotterdam will discuss this subject at length during one of the sessions. Projects are already under way.

The Netherlands is also focusing on making transport – and shipping in particular – greener and more sustainable. This is the global commitment we signed up to in Paris.

I think we should share as much knowledge and experience as we can.

By developing new ships which can carry out greener, more sustainable transport operations. We’ll not only improve transport flows, but also contribute to a cleaner environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The twenty-first century is a century of major change. Digital technology, climate, energy and raw materials. This is the century in which we abandon established patterns, and shape a new, sustainable, digital future. We share a joint, global responsibility. I believe in international cooperation. And that’s why I want to work with you and explore our joint maritime opportunities.

Under the flag of Partners for International Business, Dutch-Indonesian partnerships are taking shape. We’re getting ever closer partners.

Letters of Intent are being signed during this visit by your university of technology ITS and Dutch Partners for International Business in the shipbuilding sector, like Damen.

Pelindo III and the Port of Rotterdam have signed an MoU on sharing knowledge on port digitalisation. The first results of a joint study will be presented today.

We’ve also talked this week about the conditions under which Dutch companies can contribute to achieving Indonesia’s maritime ambitions.

We’ve taken major steps forward. Towards a joint future.

And with this seminar today, you will be making a significant contribution.

I hope the rest of your discussions will be productive.

Thank you.