IOC Heads of State summit slated for July at Comoros
Secretary General Jean Claude de l’Estrac noted that greater connectivity by air is a major concern for member states. (Image: IOC website)
The 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government has been scheduled for July at Comoros, according to Jean Claude de l’Estrac, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
The last summit was held in 2005 and met in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
While the agenda is yet to be finalized, this summit is expected to take up critical issue like enlargement and deepening of the IOC, which currently counts Comoros, Reunion Island, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles as its five member nations. Incidentally, Sri Lanka and Maldives have both expressed interest in joining the IOC.
The financial autonomy of the IOC will also be discussed. The regional organization is currently funded by member states for its administration, and by agency donors for its projects, with the European Union being the largest donor at 70%.
Jean Claude de l’Estrac stated that the IOC needs to have greater funding by member nations, especially as the largest donor, the EU, ties in a portion of its funding to the weight of financial contribution by member states themselves.
Greater connectivity by air will certainly be one of the priority themes of the summit because it is a major concern for the member states, noted the Secretary General.
“It affects the competitiveness of our region. Inter-island flights are more expensive than flights within the Caribbean for equivalent distances,” said the Secretary-General. In this context, Seychelles has proposed the establishment of a single market for air transport in the Indian Ocean region.
Besides, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) will be holding a regional conference in April on the theme of the ocean economy.
The objective of the conference is to identify areas for regional cooperation among member nations for sustainable and optimal exploitation of ocean space.
This conference will be organized jointly by the Institute of Oceanography Mauritius and Institute of Oceanography Xiamen (China). In addition to the presence of governments and public institutions, the private sector is also expected to be well-represented.
Also, later this year, the blue economy will again be evoked during the third international Conference of United Nations on Small Island Developing States which will be held from 1 to 4 September in Apia, Samoa. Incidentally, 2014 has been declared the ‘Year of Small Island Developing States’ by the United Nations.
In the context of Mauritius’ ocean economy focus, the UN conference would provide a golden platform to argue the case for sustainable development, especially in view of the unique and particular vulnerabilities of small island nation economies.