The IOC, an expression of a unique identity and a common future
The IOC offers us the opportunity to signify ourselves to the world in all our originality. This representation that we have of ourselves and of ourselves in the world must enable us to assume a common destiny and to fully assume that we have a region to build.
Our space contains vital fish and energy reserves for our region and beyond that, it contains treasures of biodiversity. There is an agenda to be built, an agenda that is necessarily collaborative, cooperative, based on a strategy of genuine friendship, solidarity and openness, between our islands, and also with all the countries in the region.
The IOC is strongly committed to building solidarity and sustainable development in this vast area of Indian Ocean area, which in many respects overlaps with the areas of Eastern and Southern Africa. My predecessors laid the foundations of a solid IOC, with a renewed and clearly defined architecture, with quality human resources, accompanied by financial resources from Member States and highly proactive partners. We still need to move the IOC forward, for as Heraclitus said, “a river is never the same river”.
Security, climate and biodiversity, economy
I have therefore chosen to place my mandate under the sign of a triple set of challenges:
- Firstly, security, in line with the actions of my predecessor and the priority of our Member States:
Indianocean must be a space of freedom and sovereignty respecting each other, and we must collectively ensure its security so that everyone can “have the freedom of sovereignty” and that no hegemony takes hold in the region. It is a common agenda with an oceanic vision for building that freedom. It is an agenda of maritime surveillance and protection of our marine areas. I hope that together with the Member States, the observer members, the regional organisations and the development partners, we will deepen the integration agenda around maritime security.
- Then there is the imperative of fighting global warming and protecting biodiversity.
This is not the smallest subject. The climate agenda is absolutely decisive for the future of our islands. It is about resilience, about resistance. It is simply about life. There is a framework for international cooperation, we need to mobilise funding and build common strategies with all IOC partners. The biodiversity agenda is a strategic agenda for the whole region. One of the region’s assets is its biodiversity capital. It is not an artificial capital, it is a natural capital. It must be fully exploited so that there is a return on the territories and for the populations.
- Finally, the third issue is the economy.
Connectivity and both physical and digital infrastructure. Connectivity is essential because it opens up the possibilities: the possibilities of exchange and wonder, of trade and encounter, of training and employment. The infrastructure needs in the region are colossal. In an area made up of island countries, the question of network connectivity and its transport networks is central, both economically and politically. The challenge is to build, with our partners, quality transport and communication infrastructures that guarantee the free movement of people, information and goods, that are economically sustainable and that respect the sovereignty of the States in terms of debt. Connectivity is the first pillar of the economic strategy to be developed for the region.
This triple priority should enable the IOC to respond to the challenges of sustainable development in the region. Of course, this prioritisation cannot ignore the cross-cutting challenges that must create the conditions for the emergence of sustainable cities, or rather sustainable islands: green energy, agroecology, education and training, health, equality, empowerment of women and youth and, at the beginning of everything, peace and stability.
Reconciling economy and ecology
The IOC has a unique voice in this region of the world, on an African scale. It carries an island voice, determined to reconcile the ecological and economic agendas. This makes it a fully political organisation, in the etymological sense.
With the IOC, we must seal a pact for the future with women and men who are bearers of a strong identity open to the world, women and men concerned about their future and capable of reconciling continents. We must have this ambition for our youth, for the generations to come. This is a political ambition for the IOC. It is a strategic axis. It is a daily responsibility against risks, against relegation. In other words, for our development.