The days flew by and before we knew it, it was Friday. Our last day in Mauritius. There was still one last thing we had not yet done and that was visit the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The schedule on Friday was tight but luckily we managed to fit it in. When we arrived at the IORA in Cybercity, Ebène, we were introduced to the members of the organisation in Mauritius and welcomed into a conference room already set up for a PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Firdaus Dahlan, Director at IORA Mauritius.
Basically the Indian Ocean Rim Association is one that promotes regional economic cooperation between states under the Indian Ocean Rim. An alliance set up to promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states. It consists of 21 countries, Seychelles included. Separated into different sectors, the IORA manages areas such as Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Fisheries Management, Danger Risk Management, Academic and Science & Technology Cooperation, Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges, and Blue Economy + Women Empowerment. However, IORA believes in cooperation, mutual understanding, and constructive engagement being the key to overcoming maritime challenges. The IORA plans on getting their first summit this year.
In 2014 the Blue Economy theme was recognised as a high priority area. The sectors within this area include fisheries and aquaculture, renewable ocean energy, seaports and shipping, offshore hydrocarbons and seabed minerals, marine biotechnology, research and development, and tourism. In most member states the Blue Economy contributes significantly to the countries’ GDP therefore its preservation is considered very important. The Mauritius Declaration of the Blue Economy was adopted at the first IORA in 2015. Capacity building is made possible with the help of workshops, conferences and meetings on the different sectors of the Blue Economy. The programmes help to develop projects that can be used to tackle the problems our ocean faces. For now IORA is looking to strengthen maritime safety and security, enhance capacity building, promote private and public partnership, and strengthen cooperation on R&D and technology transfer, and strengthening engagement of dialogue partners in IORA projects. The IORA’s funding for its projects is received in the form of voluntary contribution from member states otherwise through special funds.
By the end of the talk we all had more knowledge of the IORA, what its functions are and how Seychelles benefits from being a member. We went back to the hotel for our bags and a quick lunch then drove to the airport with great memories and lots of things to tell the people back home.
Written by Nikita Rennie.