IORA 2014 closing statement

  • Speech, E&OE

Thank you for coming to Perth, Australia's Indian Ocean capital,for this 14th Ministerial Meeting and I appreciate the distances somehave had to travel to be here.

We have reached the conclusion of this Council of Ministers'Meeting and while today marks the mid point in my term as chair of IORA and theconclusion of one of IORA's busiest years on record it also marks the beginningof next year and the work that we've done today will empower IORA to strike newheights and achieve new goals. We've signed the amended IORA charter to reflectour new name and logo and this is important symbolic affirmation of ourcommitment to support the ideals and values of our organisation.

We have stated to the world our collective commitment to ensuringour region continues to grow and prosper by endorsing an IORA EconomicDeclaration. For our part, for Australia's part, I want to announce that wehave established a $1 million Economic Diplomacy Fund to support initiativesthat take forward IORA's economic agenda. So a number of the matters we'vediscussed today I hope Australia will be able to fund through our EconomicDiplomacy Fund.

We have unanimously expressed our desire to protect the safety andsecurity of those who traverse the Indian Ocean. While not all member stateshave been able to sign IORA's Memorandum of Understanding on search and rescuecooperation today, I'm confident that many more will do so in the near future.We will look forward to developing and broadening our cooperation over time toensure that we can best protect lives in a rapidly changing world.

To further boost search and rescue cooperation, I'm pleased toannounce the Australia will commit $2.6 million to strengthen the search andrescue capabilities in the Indian Ocean region, working with Sri Lanka,Mauritius and the Maldives.

We have made a good start on embedding women's empowerment acrossour six priority areas and I do challenge members to continue to build momentumbehind this initiative. As I said this week, 'empowering women is not only theright thing to do, it is the smart thing to do'.

I think we had excellent discussions today on the 'blue economy'.Like the waters of the Indian Ocean it is crystal clear that the blue economyhas great potential to bring greater prosperity to all our countries, whetherthrough fishing, aquaculture, renewable energy, mineral exploration, coastaltourism or other areas.

Through the IORA Business Week we have created a stronger platformfor Indian Ocean businesses to connect and share views with us and each other.Business links, and business friendly policies are critical to increasing tradeand investment flows in the region and beyond.

We have adopted a proposal to map trade and economic agreements,memberships and dialogues across the region, our matrix, with the aim toidentify new opportunities, to deepen our collective involvement in the growthof the region.

With the endorsement of the United Arab Emirates to become ViceChair in 2017 I'm confident that IORA's future will be bright. Our next threechairs – Indonesia, South Africa and now the UAE - will bring great strengthand energy to the chair position and will serve IORA well.

The world around us can be a volatile and unpredictable place.International organisations, due to their complexity, often find it difficultto embrace new opportunities quickly or respond to breaking events. We now havea mechanism through which IORA can respond and adapt to events as they occur.

We welcome the increased interest of countries in our region tojoin IORA. It is a sign of IORA's growing influence and stature as a regionalorganisation.

We continue to value our dialogue partners and the contributionthey make to IORA. Dialogue partners bring a wealth of experience and supportto our region. They are our link with the world at large.

We've made progress on connecting IORA with other regional andglobal organisations and look forward to closer ties with the United Nations,African Union and the Indian Ocean Commission.

We're looking at new ways to better focus IORA on theimplementation and recommendations from the growing number of IORA workshopsand conferences. We have agreed to reform our sub fora – the Indian Ocean RimBusiness Forum and Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group. Both now have a strategicmission which will make them more efficient, more representative and betterable to provide more focus and expert advice.

We have agreed to better resource IORA's Secretariat to ensure itcan continue to provide high quality support and advice and better service thegrowing needs of our organisation. And we've made the IORA Special Fund moreaccessible to our least developed and developing members and we're confidentthat these measures will give them the ability to be more engaged and moreactive in this organisation.

We now look forward to the next Council of Ministers' Meeting inwhich Australia will formally hand over the chair position to Indonesia. I'mconfident Indonesia will lift this organisation to even greater heights.

I now ask my colleague from Indonesia to make some closingremarks.

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