The department’s coordination of Australia’s efforts as chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) (2013–2015) deepened our engagement with the region, strengthened the organisation’s international profile and institutional capacity, highlighted new economic opportunities and embedded gender-related norms.
With overwhelming support from IORA members, the department led Australia’s introduction of the blue economy—the sustainable management of our marine resources—as a policy priority. The Foreign Minister announced a $3 million Blue Economy Aquaculture Challenge to source scientific and technological innovations that could boost regional prosperity. The winning ideas will be trialled and tested in the Indian Ocean region.
Recognising that gender equality is a critical driver of economic growth in the region, the department championed the mainstreaming of women’s economic empowerment across IORA’s work.
We hosted several IORA women’s economic empowerment events, including with the UN Development Programme, UN Women and the Government of the Republic of Seychelles to strengthen member states’ commitment in this regard.
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls launched a landmark report outlining the status of women in the region, called Enabling Women’s Contributions to the Indian Ocean Rim Economies. The report, the first of its kind covering IORA countries, will enhance evidence-based decision-making in support of women’s economic empowerment.
The department also worked hard to secure IORA observer status at the UN General Assembly and the African Union and shepherded development of an IORA Memorandum of Understanding on Search and Rescue to improve coordination of the region’s responses to maritime-related accidents.