The eighth Bi-Annual Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association was held in Durban, South Africa on 30-31 July.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Sri Lanka’s head of delegation Saroja Sirisena, Director General/Economic Affairs (Multilateral) of the Foreign Ministry, emphasised that the time is ripe for IORA, which is the premier organisation of the Indian Ocean Region to transform itself from a catalyst to an engine of growth. She highlighted the potential for IORA to deliver much needed development to a region that is estimated to be home to half of the global population by 2050.
Emphasising the importance of the oceans as the new economic frontier, the head of delegation stated that IORA Member States need to put in place cooperative arrangements that would benefit the region. She drew attention to the particular importance of the Indian Ocean from an economic, strategic and environmental perspective.
As lead coordinator of the Maritime Safety and Security pillar, Sri Lanka announced the hosting of a workshop to establish the IORA Working Group in September in Colombo. The core group comprising Australia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, South Africa and the UAE met on the sidelines of the CSO at which the way forward of the establishment of the Working Group was decided.
The objectives of the Working Group are to build synergies and identify practical areas of cooperation in Maritime Safety and Security in the region. Sri Lanka became part of the core groups on Disaster Risk Management and Tourism and Cultural Exchanges of IORA.
The Sri Lanka delegation to the CSO comprised Sashikala Premawardhane, Director General/Ocean Affairs and Climate Change, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Captain H.M.P. Senaratne of the Sri Lanka Navy and Piryangani Hewaratne, Minister Counsellor, Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria.