For more than 30 years, France has been a member of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), alongside the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles.
The IOC is an international organization with a French-speaking, island identity. Its five Member States share the same ambition to galvanize the organization. This ambition was illustrated in 2020 with the review of the founding Victoria Agreement in order to equip the IOC with the means to carry out collective action and give a statutory role to the Summit of Heads of State and Government.
French participation is driven by the desire for La Réunion to fully contribute to regional cooperation within the IOC. La Réunion is linked to the countries in the region through its rich history, economic and commercial exchanges and human interactions.
The statutes of the IOC allow regional entities to apply for membership. On 10 January 1986, France became a fully-fledged member of the Commission because of La Réunion.
Since its accession, and the first French presidency of the IOC between October 1992 and December 1993, France has furthered its activities within this organization.
The action of the Indian Ocean Commission is spread across several strategic focuses:
- Stability and security, especially in the maritime area;
- The economic integration of the island States of the Commission, by promoting the blue economy, a label for the ethical and sustainable use of the sea;
- The preservation of the environment and management of climate and environmental risks;
- Public health cooperation, beyond the current public health crisis, particularly concerning public health challenges;
- Scientific and academic cooperation.
Concrete projects are carried out according to these strategic focuses. They mobilize financial partners as varied as the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union (EU), the Green Climate Fund and the World Bank.
The IOC implements ambitious partnerships, including:
- The BRIO project, financed by the AFD and Météo France, enables experience-sharing between Météo France and Météo-Seychelles, and the development of a high-resolution climate change simulation model for all the IOC islands. This is a first in Africa.
- The COVID-19 public health response plan was set up with the aim of delivering medical equipment, with the support of the AFD.
- The ePOP network (petites ondes participatives, or little participative waves), creates a dialogue between the populations affected by cultural changes and climate change, scientists and other players, through the creation of short videos. This sustainable development awareness initiative is backed by the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and RFI Planète Radio. ePOP earned the support of the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 2021.
As a member of the Indian Ocean Commission, France enjoys a permanent dialogue framework with the countries in the region. This also allows La Réunion to join in the regional cooperation in the southwest Indian Ocean.
The IOC is the only regional African organization of which France is a member. With the exception of the IOC, in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, the only other international organizations in which France is a stakeholder because of its overseas territories are the Pacific Community and the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
Since its creation, the IOC’s expertise has been recognized in several areas, especially in projects strengthening integration in the region. As such, the Commission has received significant financing from the EU and the AFD to carry out regional cooperation projects in natural resources management, environmental crisis resolution, maritime security, fishing and climate change.
France is a very active and involved member in the functioning of the IOC. Its contribution accounts for 40% of the organization’s operating budget. The Agence Française de Développement, the French agency that implement’s French development assistance policy, is the IOC’s second-largest partner with support that amounts to around €36 million since 2018.
The European Union, of which France is a member, is the leading financial supporter of the IOC, contributing €94 million.
France also provides its expertise to the IOC in the various projects it carries out.
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