Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the member states of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to build a unified sustainable blue economic belt in this region by making best use of the untapped resources of the sea.
“There are great opportunities to accelerate the sustainable development process of the respective countries of the region through Blue Economy approach, making best use of the unused or untapped resources of the sea,” she said while addressing the inauguration of the 3rd IORA Blue Economy Ministerial Conference.
The foreign ministry in association with IORA organised the conference at Hotel InterContinental Dhaka.
Hasina said the IORA members could tackle the challenges of poverty, food insecurity, energy crisis and ecological imbalances and create huge employment opportunities.
She urged them to build on a consensus agreement to achieve the Goal-14 of the Sustainable Development Goals through a sustainable approach of management of the sea resources.
Mentioning that there is an intricate relation between peace, security and sustainable development, Hasina said, “We have to keep it in mind that we cannot sacrifice the marine environment in pursuing economic growth.”
About the IORA, she said the association has become a platform for cooperation in the areas of maritime safety and security, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk management, and blue economy.
She hoped that this spirit of cooperation among the members of the organisation would be enhanced in future.
In this connection, the PM said Bangladesh is going to take charges as the vice-chair and chair of the IORA on the first day of next month and on 1st October in 2021 respectively for two years.
She requested the IORA members to extend all-out cooperation in discharging these challenging duties.
Hasina said most of the IORA member states are highly vulnerable to tsunami, cyclones and global warming as climate change is threatening the ecology.
She said oceans and seas absorb almost 30 percent of all greenhouse gases as well as 90 percent of the excess heat caused by global warming and the existence of humans will be in peril if the marine ecological system is disrupted.
“We need to respond very quickly to tackle these challenges. We need to be concerned about all kinds of illegal activities in the ocean.”
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, IORA Chairperson and South African Deputy Minister for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Makhotso Magdeline Sotyu, IORA Secretary General Nomvuyo N Nokwe and Secretary General of the International Seabed Authority Michael W Lodge also spoke on the occasion.
Ministers, deputy ministers, high government officials and experts, including secretaries of 22 member states and nine dialogue partner countries of the IORA, are participating in the conference.
The IORA, an inter-governmental organisation, was established in 1997 with 21 countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.Japan, Germany, China, the UK, the US, France, and Egypt are the dialogue partners of the platform.