Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Attends the Indian Ocean Rim Association Blue Economy Ministerial Conference in Bangladesh

04 September 2019

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Ms Maggie Sotyu has arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the third Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Blue Economy Ministerial Conference (BEC-III) set to take place from 04 to 05 September 2019. 

The Blue Economy Conference is convened under the theme: Promoting Sustainable Blue Economy – making the best use of opportunities from the Indian Ocean. The conference aims to deliberate on mechanisms that will promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment opportunities in the Blue Economy activities along the Indian Ocean belt. Deliberations will also focus on initiatives that need to be undertaken to secure inclusive and balanced promotion, protection and conservation of the marine resources in the Indian Ocean.

IORA is a dynamic inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region through its 22 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners. The organisation was established in 1997 following President Nelson Mandela’s 1995 visit to India. As the third largest ocean woven together by trade routes, commanding control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments, the Indian Ocean remains an important lifeline to international trade and transport.

South Africa is committed to strengthening the Blue Economy through the Government-driven Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy as a common source of growth, innovation and job creation.  The expansion of trade and investment within the region, including fisheries activities, minerals exploration, development of renewable energy and coastal tourism, is key to stimulating growth and improving food and energy security in the Region.

The conference provides an opportunity for South Africa to share experiences and draw lessons from countries in the Indian Ocean region to further advance our own oceans economy.  Launched in 2014, Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy brought together all stakeholders from Government, private sector, civil society, academics and labour, to interrogate the ocean sectors and develop detailed delivery plans to unlock the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, which could contribute up to R177 billion to the GDP by 2033 and create between 800 000 and 1 million direct jobs in nine (9) ocean sectors.

South Africa is currently the chair of IORA and will be handing over the baton to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) towards the end of the year.  Deputy Minister Sotyu will address the conference in this capacity and also highlight some of the achievements of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy in her country statement. 

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