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Remarks by Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles on the occasion of the 14th Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Perth, 9th October 2014

13.10.2014

H.E. Ms. Julie Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia and Chair of IORA,

H.E Mr. Marti Natalegawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and co-chair of IORA,

Secretary General of IORA,

Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

 

We thank you Madam Chair, for having convened this meeting in Perth, Australia's gateway to the Indian Ocean.  We also thank the government and people of Australia for their strategic commitment to this Indian Ocean space- a space which continues to gain geo-strategic importance, and economic relevance, as emphasised by the engagement of the region's business community.

We also welcome the membership requests from the 3 countries that have expressed the desire to join; Maldives, Myanmar and Somalia.

 

As we start this meeting, allow me to re-state our solidarity with the government and people of Malaysia related to the disappearance of MH370.  This tragic incident, and the coordinated efforts of all our states to recover the missing plane, have illustrated the importance of renewed commitments towards defining the Indian ocean as a zone of partnership, peace and development.

 

Madam Chair,

 

The fact that we have placed the Blue Economy at the heart of the agenda of this meeting, recognises the importance that we all place on our ocean as a catalyst for our future development.

 

A coordinated and inclusive approach towards better harnessing our ocean's wealth and resources will yield shared benefits for all.  To fully implement the Blue Economy, Seychelles has highlighted the importance of a deeper commitment to oceanic research, better marine spatial planning and more effective and judicious management of marine protected areas.

We must also not forget the 'economy' within the 'Blue Economy'. We must empower and facilitate the contribution of the private sector to these efforts.

Seychelles was pleased to organise a first Blue Economy Summit in partnership with the United Arab Emirates as part of the annual sustainability week held in Abu Dhabi every January at the beginning of this year.  We are pleased that this meeting will now become an annual event and we very much look forward to receive representatives from IORA countries once again in January 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

 

One of the principal recommendations of this first meeting was that more emphasis must be placed on research relating to the sustainable management of our oceans.  We have only a fraction of the data required for our countries to make informed decisions that have an impact not only on our own populations, but far beyond our borders.

 

We welcome Australia's engagement towards research as illustrated through the development of the Indian Ocean Research Centre.  We also welcome the initiatives of many of our members towards emphasising research into the Blue Economy including Bangladesh, India, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the UAE among others.

 

It is essential that the results of ground breaking research are also shared as widely, and as inclusively as possible.  A core recommendation from the recently concluded Third International Conference on Small island Developing States in Samoa, is to facilitate access by SIDS to appropriate information and research.  Islands are the custodians of large tracts of oceans, but have the least resources to effectively manage these spaces.

 

We firmly believe that IORA is the ideal framework through which to facilitate the sharing of best practices and research relating to ocean management and governance in the Indian ocean.

 

The importance of careful and coordinated improvements in terms of marine spatial planning and marine protection cannot be over-emphasised.  We need to develop regional tools to help us share best practices. Seychelles has already been actively engaged in launching the Western Indian Ocean Challenge- an initiative to better protect sensitive areas in our region, promote climate change resilience as well as build viable eco-tourism opportunities.  We are very encouraged by the engagement of many regional partners, which in addition to the Indian Ocean island states includes Kenya and Tanzania.

 

We believe that we can further strengthen our understanding and implementation of marine protected areas by also learning from the many innovations being undertaken in our region and we hope to build such partnerships with the support of IORA.

 

Better marine spacial planning alongside improved protection also offers opportunities for sustainable development of our fisheries, where again, IORA is already playing a key role to facilitate exchange of information and regional partnerships.

 

Madam Chair,

 

We are painfully aware that the Blue Economy cannot be developed if we do not also strengthen our collective security related to our maritime spaces.  Seychelles has launched a regional intelligence coordination centre to better share information relating not only to piracy- but to also counter the rising threats of drug trafficking, arms trafficking, people trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the threat of terrorism. We hope to be able to build a strong regional network of maritime security centres that are empowered to share information in real time.  We are conscious that we all have different national laws regulating security matters- but where possible let us build practical informal information sharing network, which can provide for a more formal networks in the long term.  We welcome the proposal to build a partnership with UNODC to facilitate the creation of this type of regional network.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Tourism is also at heart of our Indian Ocean Rim Association.  While it contributes substantially to the GDP of our region- it offers us the potential to bring even more.  Seychelles is proud to host The Indian Ocean Rim meeting of Tourism Ministers and Tourism Mart from the 20th to the 21st November and I call on all members to participate actively in building this shared opportunity.

 

Madam Chair,

 

Seychelles welcomes your initiative to address the empowerment of women and girls as a cross cutting issue within our Association.  These efforts to create empowerment can also be situated within our efforts to strengthen the trade and economic partnerships in our region.  Seychelles would like to reiterate its support for the facilitation of a network which brings together SMEs from across our region, particularly those that are led by women and which bring a positive impact to the empowerment of women and girls.  In a small country such as Seychelles, we are very conscious that opportunities for economic transformation are always linked to economic transformations that also occur elsewhere.  Let us do more to support links between SMEs across our ocean.  Let us also get banks and micro-finance institutions across our region to partner with SMEs to create new opportunities for every scale of business.

 

Finally Madam Chair,

 

Allow me to reiterate our profound conviction that the Indian Ocean Rim Association is the ideal vehicle to bring about the Blue Economy transformation that we are all committed to.  If the last 100 years was very much about how we could maximise the use of our land, this century is very much about making the most of our ocean.

The Indian Ocean is at the crest of this wave, and with our leadership and commitment we can bring about this transformative change that we all believe in.

 

I thank you.

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