Speech by Ms Lidewijde Ongering, Secretary-General of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, at the Maritime Security Seminar

Secretary-General Lidewijde Ongering spoke on a seminar on Maritime Security in Indonesië on 23 november. She told her Indonesian hosts about the successful Dutch approach: ‘It all depended on openness, honesty and building trust to meet this challenges and turn them into gains. Such as better awareness and understanding, better plans and prioritization and more efficient and effective use of staff and hardware. It all brought more safety and security.’

Thank you Mr Pals for your introduction.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Selamat siang!

I’ve been in Indonesia for a couple of days now.
Every time I come here, I’m impressed by your country’s beauty, energy and hospitality.
It’s always a great pleasure to visit.

And this visit is extra special because I’m part of one of the biggest Dutch delegations ever.
Made up of the prime minister, three ministers and representatives from around 110 Dutch companies, especially from the water and maritime sectors.
The delegation’s size underscores the strong ties between our countries.

Today’s theme – maritime security and cooperation – is a vital element of these ties.
And it’s a topic my country can relate to strongly.
Because like Indonesia, the Netherlands is a maritime nation.
We have a shared interest in marine law, peace and stability.
But also in open Sea Lines of Communication, safe and secure territorial waters and effective protection of resources and the marine environment.
In short, we have a lot in common as regards today’s theme.

Of course, there’s an enormous difference in terms of scale.
Indonesia’s territory contains a much larger area of water than the Netherlands’.
Yet we share many similar challenges and opportunities.

One of the challenges facing Indonesia is related to its enormous water area: what are smart, efficient ways to govern and organise this area?
I want to tell you how the Netherlands has set up its maritime security. It’s a topic we can discuss for mutual learning and benefit.
Ladies and gentlemen,

Dutch maritime policy is based mainly on the IMO’s security strategy and rules and on the EU Maritime Security Strategy.
These strategies recognise the different interests and threats.
And provide a comprehensive approach to dealing with interests ranging from freedom of navigation to border security and biodiversity conservation.

Based on that, we take an integrated response to maritime security challenges.

Linking up direct threats − like conventional military challenges, piracy and terrorism − as well as indirect threats arising from illegal fishing and climate change.

Our National Maritime Strategy brings together all relevant national actors in the maritime sector to enhance cooperation and integration.
Our main goal is to maintain a sustainable position in the maritime environment.

My minister – Mrs. Melanie Schultz - is coordinating minister for North Sea affairs and is responsible for integrated policy, planning and budgeting.

One of the parties we oversee is the Coastguard.
It actually falls under five ministries, including our own.
They all have their own tasks and responsibilities and work closely together.

The Dutch Coastguard is an autonomous civil society organisation with three aims.

First, responsible use of the North Sea.
Second, helping maintain security at sea.
And third, enforcing domestic and international laws and obligations.

In order to do its work properly, and have access to the information it needs, the Coastguard depends on various government agencies.
Such as Rijkswaterstaat which is responsible for tasking, control, piloting ships and waterway marking.
The Maritime Police for control and enforcement in ports and on inland waterways.
And the Royal Netherlands Navy for surveillance and interventions at sea.
Of course, many more agencies are involved.

The Coastguard also works closely with civil society organisations in connection with − for instance − search and rescue missions, weather reports and traffic control for shipping and aviation.

To ensure responsible use of the sea, maritime security and compliance with domestic and international laws, the Coastguard carries out tasks in two broad categories.

Service tasks and law enforcement tasks.
This includes surveillance and intervention.

Service tasks include:

  • warning ships about dangers;
  • responding to incidents and coordinating support by other ships; and
  • informing ships under Dutch flag around the world about terrorist threats.

Enforcement includes general policing in coastal waters, inland seaways and ports.

Over the past ten years we’ve focused on integrated policy, joint planning, information sharing, multi-tasking and mission-based staffing.
This works not only at tactical level but at organisational and governance levels as well.

We had to overcome certain challenges to put all this in place.
There was reluctance to hand over authority and budgets, to leave long-term planning and priority-setting to a board.

And also people had to gain experience with joint mission planning and execution.

Overcoming these challenges depended on openness, honesty and building trust. And created new strengths, like better awareness and understanding, better planning and priority-setting and more efficient and effective use of staff and hardware.
It’s all resulted in more safety and more security.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Your country is much bigger than the Netherlands of course, and your maritime area is vast.
You know best how different your situation is from ours.
Piracy, terrorism and illegal fishing are very real threats here.
And as dependence on data grows, cybersecurity becomes a truly vital challenge.

One of the challenges you’ll certainly meet is organising surveillance and intervention, and connecting all parties involved, national and international.

Step by step The Netherlands found possible solutions and new possibilities.
And we’re keen to share our ideas and expertise with Indonesia.
For the benefit of both our countries.  

To sum up: our new approach hasn’t come easy.
Sometimes the waves were high and the sea dangerous.
But in the end we’ve achieved more safety and more security.
And that was our goal!

Thank you, Terima Kasih.