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The Second IORA Blue Economy Ministerial Conference

8-10 May 2017: Jakarta, Indonesia

Blue Economy (BE) has been identified as a priority area among the Indian Ocean region economies. It holds great potential for innovation and sustainable job creation, as well as contributes to food security and poverty alleviation in the Indian Ocean. Overexploitation of resources, coupled with the impact of climate change however, have put increasing pressure of coastal and marine resources, thereby requiring Member States to adopt new approaches such as ecosystem-based management as a tool to maintain healthy, productive and resilient conditions in order to provide sustainable ecosystem services.
The first Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Ministerial Blue Economy Conference (BEC-I) on ‘Enhancing Blue Economy Cooperation for Sustainable Development in the IORA Region’ was held in 2015 in Mauritius with the aim of conceptualising the sustainable development of BE sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, renewable ocean energy, seaport and shipping, and offshore hydrocarbon and seabed minerals within the IORA context. The Mauritius Declaration on Blue Economy was adopted as a result, aiming at harnessing ocean resources in a sustainable manner.
The Second IORA Ministerial Blue Economy Conference (BEC-II) was held in Jakarta, Indonesia this year. The conference also comprised of a Working Session and a Senior Official Meeting. The main outcome of these meetings was the Jakarta Declaration on the Blue Economy, which outlines the way forward for sustainable development of the BE in the region. Several focus areas were discussed in detail at the BEC-II including aquaculture and fisheries, marine tourism, renewable ocean energy, business/ private sector involvement, infrastructure development, and deep sea mining in the Indian Ocean region.



Delegates at the forum

Additionally, the deliberations from the Third IORA Blue Economy Core Group on ‘Environmental sustainability and the BE in the Indian Ocean rim region’ which was held from 10-11 April 2017 in Mauritius, as well as the previous two core group workshops were highlighted at BEC-II.
Cheryl Rita Kaur, Head of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment represented MIMA and the Malaysian delegation along with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She spoke at one of the Working Sessions focusing on “Marine Tourism”, and Chaired the Session on “Combatting Marine Plastic Debris”. The Marine Tourism Session addressed the need to promote sustainable coastal and marine tourism in the Indian Ocean Region. The discussion looked into how individual countries could successfully address the challenges and opportunities associated with the sector. For many countries in the IORA region, marine tourism constitutes the main economic sector and source of employment. The diversity of coastal and marine tourism goes beyond the typical beach tourism. The great diversity of activities and expansion of the sector is experiencing are related to socioeconomic factors and coastal population growth, and is projected to grow exponentially. There is however a lack of thorough data about participation and revenues for most coastal and marine activities, and hence the emphasis on accounting for the critical role of the ocean activities and marine ecosystems to the national economies and sustainability.

The Panellists on Marine Plastic Debris highlighted the issue as a global pollution problem that affects marine life, maritime commerce and environmentally quality, as well as direct and indirect adverse impacts on blue economy sectors such as tourism, shipping and fisheries. The session elaborated on the origin of marine debris which ranges from large sized to small particles of persistent solid waste in the ocean originating from urban and rural discharges to waste from ships and recreational uses. The primary source of debris was emphasised to be originating from land-based sources, mainly from improper waste disposal and management of solid waste and manufacturing products that end up in rivers, ports, and the coastal areas. Increasing populations, reducing land availability for waste disposal, coupled with poor waste management strategies were considered as some of the major challenges involved.



MIMA Centre for Coastal and Marine Environment Head Cheryl Rita Kaur (2nd from left) spoke on marine tourism prospects during the forum

Overall, in order to fully realise the economic potentials of the Indian Ocean, a coordinated and inclusive approach towards better harnessing our ocean's wealth and resources that would yield shared benefits for all were called for by the Member States towards sustainable development of the BE in the region.

MIMA is proud to be part of this important endeavour and will continue to support the BE mechanism towards promoting environmental sustainability at the national and regional levels. 

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