SA’s Pandor calls for ocean protection at IORA

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South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor wants world leaders to “urgently take action” to protect oceans and for people dependent on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

She spoke at last week’s 23rd Council of Ministers meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Sri Lanka. IORA is an inter-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening regional co-operation and sustainable development in the Indian Ocean region through its 23 member states and 11 dialogue partners.

IORA priorities, Pandor is reported by government news agency SAnews as saying, recognise 40% of the world population lives near coastal areas with three billion plus people using the oceans for their livelihood and 80% of world trade being maritime based.

“The oceans, seas and coastal areas contribute to food security and poverty eradication.

“And yet, oceans are under severe threat by human activities, where economic profits are at the expense of environmental degradation.”

Pandor highlighted acidification, pollution, ocean warming, eutrophication and fishery collapse as some issues facing the marine ecosystem.

“These threats are detrimental to the planet and there are long term repercussions that demand urgent action to protect the oceans and the people who depend on them.

“The Indian Ocean region should remain our own peaceful zone from which we can enhance opportunities in trade and further develop our nations by advancing the protection that our oceans so dearly deserve.”

“I am pleased that the high-level strategic dialogue meeting, which was co-chaired by South Africa and the Secretariat, was a resounding success.

“Discussions were held on, among others, the achievements and challenges of IORA’s first 25 years and what that meant for the IORA’s future work and the implementation of the IORA Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.”

Pandor is of the view these issues are significant and will continue to strengthen an association becoming increasingly important on the global stage, SAnews reported.