The Indian Ocean Region is looking at redefining its regional architecture to deal with the myriad security and socio-economic challenges it faces.
Part of the work is strengthening institutional mechanisms and bodies, including the secretariat.
Under South Africa’s chairship, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is in the process of establishing new dedicated functional bodies to deal specifically with critical priorities in areas such as maritime safety and security, the blue economy, women’s economic empowerment and tourism.
“There is also a strong focus on enhancing trade and investment between IORA members; empowering the youth; ensuring the effective utilisation of resources, such as water and fisheries; and promoting research, development and innovation, including through the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition,” Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Luwellyn Landers said on Tuesday.
The focus on key priorities and the establishment of these new bodies will enable IORA to have a comprehensive set of work plans to deal with the challenges being faced in the Region. Furthermore, it will advance many opportunities that these areas bring to the fore.
“We are on a new and exciting trajectory and we look forward to working with our partners to explore these opportunities in a coherent and organised way,” Landers said.
The Deputy Minister said the organization was collaborating with agencies and bodies such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO) for the exchange and dissemination of ocean data and information.
“We are in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). This cooperation and collaboration are in support of the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG-14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” said Landers.
In the African continent, the IORA is committed with working with the African Union in support of Agenda 2063 towards a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The continental body has declared 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans.
“We look forward to identifying ways to collaborate between IORA and the AU around the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) - Africa’s overarching, concerted and coherent long-term actions to achieve the objectives to enhance maritime viability for a prosperous Africa,” Landers added.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at the 3rd Indian Ocean Conference at Hanoi, Vietnam, under the theme: “Building Regional Architectures”.
The two-day conference, attended by around 250 attendees from 43 countries and territories, are consolidating security frameworks and administrative processes and contributing to regional peace, stability, development and connectivity.
South Africa as the current IORA encompasses the view that the Indian Ocean Region should be characterized as a region of peace, stability and development within which to pursue the goal of promoting socio-economic cooperation for the well-being and development of the countries and peoples of the Indian Ocean Rim.
The theme adopted for the SA’s tenure as Chair from 2017-2019 is: “IORA – uniting the peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development”. – SAnews.gov.za