France has been a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association since 2020, alongside 22 States ranging from Australia to South Africa. IORA is an intergovernmental regional organization and has for the last 25 years promoted development and cooperation in the region. Its work helps facilitate exchanges of technical expertise on major challenges shared in the region. Since 2021, ambitious Chairs have asserted IORA on the international stage in key sectors including the blue economy, maritime safety and climate change.
France first joined IORA as a “Dialogue Partner” in 2001, before becoming a formal Member State on 17 December 2020 (with effect from 1 January 2021). The IORA statutes allow regional entities to apply for membership. France has thus become a fully-fledged member of the Association because of La Réunion.
France’s accession to IORA is in line with the vision for the Indo-Pacific it has developed since 2018: the construction of a free, open and inclusive space.
France’s accession is also a means to enable La Réunion to participate fully in regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean. Our territories and regional States share strong ties due to their history, common cultural heritage and intense economic, commercial and human exchanges (more than 1 million French citizens live in the region).
IORA accession also enables France to continue its recognized work in the region since 1986 within the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
In 2021, France organized a workshop on illegal fishing in La Réunion. France also supports IORA by financing a capacity-building programme via the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), totalling €1 million over 3 years since 2019.
IORA’s action is spread across several strategic focuses:
- Safety and security, especially in the maritime area;
- Regional economic integration through the creation of a dynamic economic space;
- Promotion of the blue economy and a label for ethical, sustainable use of the sea;
- Cooperation for responsible and sustainable management of fisheries in the Indian Ocean;
- Preservation of ecosystems and management of climate and environmental risks;
- Scientific and academic cooperation;
- Tourism and cultural heritage cooperation;
- Women’s economic empowerment in Member States.
Working meetings are organized regularly to design projects aimed at achieving these goals. IORA is made up of 10 thematic working groups specialized in each focus and involving interested Member States.
As an IORA Member State, France enjoys a permanent dialogue framework with the countries in the region. In addition to facilitating bilateral exchanges, France’s participation in the Association also fosters La Réunion’s full integration in Indo-Pacific regional cooperation.
Alongside the IOC, IORA is the only Indian Ocean organization of which France is a full member. France’s membership of both IORA and the IOC fosters the development of cooperation projects, with a focus on relations between institutions and on strengthening synergies between multilateral programmes.
IORA is a regional organization with a clear role in France’s 4 priorities for the Indo-Pacific:
- Maritime safety and surveillance;
- Combating climate change and protecting biodiversity;
- The blue economy and connectivity, and strengthening human, tourist, academic and scientific exchanges.
France conducts many activities in IORA’s key fields, including maritime safety, tourism, the blue economy and connectivity, scientific and academic cooperation and fighting climate change. France chairs thematic sub-working groups in the fields of tourism and academia. French representatives take part in all IORA workshops and events.
Via the AFD, France signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IORA on 9 March 2020 with funding of €1 million, aimed at strengthening the capacities of the Secretariat and supporting activities around the blue economy (sustainable fisheries management and protection of the marine environment).
Mise en ligne : septembre 2022