Maritime Energy Resources in Asia (MERA)

Outstanding maritime sovereignty disputes are among the greatest potential threats to security in Asia. Given the complexity of the political, historic, legal, economic, and strategic factors at play, resolution of these boundary disputes has eluded claimant states. These complexities are compounded by mounting pressure to develop energy resources in the region as global demand soars. It is thus essential to provide stakeholders with the analysis and policy tools to diffuse the prospect of conflict.

Supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Asia Security Initiative, the National Bureau of Asian Research directed a three-year research project on the opportunities for joint development of energy resources in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Gulf of Thailand. Dr. Clive Schofield, Director of Research and QEII Research Fellow at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), served as the principal investigator for the project. In this capacity, he led the research of a diverse group of project experts, including senior researchers as well as rising scholars from many of the claimant states.

NBR worked with project experts and key stakeholders to analyze the contours of the disputes, propose models for resolution and joint development, and disseminate research findings and recommendations through various events and publications. Through this collaborative effort, the project aimed to strengthen regional networks and develop capacity building mechanisms.