An abundance of promising Asia-Pacific cooperation opportunities exist for Australian and Canadian public institutions, corporations and government ventures to shape the region’s transnational security challenges, according to a new report issued by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

In Transnational Challenges and Future Security Cooperation: The Australia-Canada Relationship, ASPI Researcher Sarah Norgrove says that “Australia and Canada are well positioned to influence regional approaches to transnational challenges such as crime, terrorism, piracy and environmental degradation, and to contribute to food, energy and cyber security.” She explains that economic development and population growth in the Asia-Pacific are presenting security challenges as opportunities.

Norgrove says there is a strategic interest for Australia and Canada, both aligned by their colonial and wartime history, culture and development trajectory, to use their engagement in the Asia-Pacific as a means to ensure the region’s development and growth is not disrupted by conflict and security challenges. Among her findings, Norgrove identifies the following as opportunities for Australian and Canadian engagement:

  • Maritime activity: Australia and Canada could work to integrate into the region’s security architecture and build trust and reciprocity with the many countries and actors, both civil and military, who engage in the region.
  • Military cooperation: Australia and Canada bring sophisticated expertise and equipment to bear, and go far in socializing international norms and reciprocity into defence exercises, many of which focus on transnational issues such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid.
  • Non-military cooperation: Australia and Canada could look to integrate global frameworks and create a plurilateral platform for intelligence sharing and civil-military cooperation on transnational crime and security concerns.
  • Education: Australia and Canada’s public policy and educational institutions are highly sought after and successful exports to the Asia-Pacific. ASEAN states have looked to tap into the prestige of Australian and Canadian tertiary institutions through student exchanges and scholarships, and through bureaucratic training in policy and normative conduct.
  • Science and technology: Innovation and technology cooperation can be the most benign and empowering methods of engagement. Given that these are areas of international expertise for both countries, it makes sense to join forces on these fronts in the Asia-Pacific. Their contributions have and can continue to make positive contributions to key areas in the Asia-Pacific such as agriculture.

“Opportunities exist to cultivate a favourable regional economy using the combined strength of [Australia and Canada’s] civil, diplomatic and military mechanisms,” says Norgrove. But, it will be essential for both countries to overcome suspicions that they are in the region only for its economic growth. “The two countries can expand the remit of their existing intelligence-sharing arrangements, regional relationships and norm-building activities to form an integrated response to contemporary Asia-Pacific security conditions.” Doing so will “go some way to establishing the character of Asia-Pacific engagement from Australia and Canada in the road ahead.”

Transnational Challenges and Future Security Cooperation: The Australia-Canada Relationship is published as part of the CIGI-ASPI paper series “Australia-Canada Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.” The opinions expressed in the report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or ASPI. To download a free PDF copy, visit:


Sarah Norgrove holds a master’s degree in strategic studies and was the 2012 T. B. Millar scholar of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. She works as a researcher at ASPI in Canberra.

Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected]

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit


The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.