On the basis of the wide range of valuable resources, the Blue Economy is gaining increasing interest in IORA Member States that are all committed to the establishment of a common vision that would make this sector a driver for balanced economic development in the Indian Ocean Rim region. In fact, the objective of the Blue Economy is to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment opportunities within the Indian Ocean region’s maritime economic activities. The Blue Economy is determined to initiate appropriate programs for the sustainable harnessing of ocean resources; research and development; developing relevant sectors of oceanography; stock assessment of marine resources; introducing marine aquaculture, deep sea/long line fishing and biotechnology; and human resource development; among others. The IORA Secretariat has identified the following six priority pillars in the blue economy as were recommended by the Council of Ministers’ meeting (COM) and revised by the Secretariat in consultation with Member States:
- Fisheries and Aquaculture
- Renewable Ocean Energy
- Seaports and Shipping
- Offshore Hydrocarbons and Seabed Minerals
- Marine Biotechnology, Research and Development
To discuss on the way forward for the development of the Blue Economy in IORA, the Working Group on the Blue Economy (WGBE), in collaboration with the IORA Secretariat, hosted the Second Meeting of the WGBE virtually on 12 April 2021 from 10:00 to 14:30 hrs (GMT+4). The meeting was chaired by South Africa and well attended by a good number of Member States and Dialogue Partners. The meeting mainly focused on:
- The implementation of the WGBE Work Plan, with a focus on Post-COVID strategies, including re-prioritisation of activities;
- Exploring cooperation with international organisations;
- Encouraging Member States and Dialogue Partners to provide commitment in the implementation of the Work Plan approved in the First Meeting of WGBE December 2019;
- Providing an overview on the upcoming Blue Economy and climate change-related activities.
In regard to the climate change-related activities, IORA RCSTT proposed to virtually hold the “First Webinar on the Effects of Climate Change on the Indian Ocean Marine Environment” on 10 May 2021 as the first step of the workshop series on the subject in cooperation with the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science (INIOAS), Regional Education and Research Centre on Oceanography for West Asia (RCOWA) under the auspices of UNESCO and in collaboration with GIZ, Germany. This proposal was confirmed by the Meeting and the prepared documents were submitted to the IORA Secretariat to be circulated among all the IORA countries.
The registration documents will also be sent out to the science and technology focal points among the Member States and Dialogue Partners in due time.