The Blue Economy is a very important dimension to future sustainable development of the ocean and its resources. The world is in many ways at a turning point in setting its economic priorities in the ocean. However, ocean resources are being exploited at a significantly high rate, which impacts on the marine environment. In fact, anthropogenic activities and the effects of climate change have greatly contributed to the shocking plunge in ocean health and ocean ecosystems. In fact, the impacts of climate change are putting increasing pressure on both marine and terrestrial environments, through more extreme weather conditions that also increase the likelihood, intensity and duration of natural disasters. This in turn affects the vulnerability of coastal communities caused by the degradation of ecosystems and decrease in the availability and accessibility of resources.
In view of addressing this important issue, IORA Member States are committed to prioritise the Blue Economy as driver for sustainable development. In fact, at the IORA Leader’s Summit that was held on 7 March 2017, IORA Member States adopted the IORA Action Plan 2017-2021. This Action Plan comprises, as one of its short-term targets, the establishment of an IORA Working Group on the Blue Economy (WGBE) as well as the implementation of the outcomes of the Blue Economy Core Group Workshops, including those from the Ministerial and High-level Expert Meetings. Following this initiative, the First Preparatory Meeting for the Establishment of the WGBE was held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 12-13 September 2018, finalised the the Terms of Reference of the WGBE and its Work Plan was endorsed at the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO), which will be held on 19-20 June 2019, South Africa.
With the finalized WGBE Work Plan, the Republic of South Africa (Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) and the IORA Secretariat, in collaboration with Germany as a Dialogue Partner, through GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusummenarbeit) will host the First Meeting of the IORA Working Group on the Blue Economy in the Republic of Mauritius from 05-06 December 2019 in Mauritius.
The objectives of the meeting are, inter alia, to:
IORA Member States will also be able to express interest in hosting any activities listed in the WGBE Work Plan. This meeting is a first step towards the implementation of the Work Plan of the WGBE and it is hoped that Member States and Dialogue Partners will provide concrete recommendations on the modalities to be adopted, as well as explore joint ventures in advancing Blue Economy in the future.
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