The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is an intergovernmental organisation which brings together five member states, namely the Union of the Comoros, France (Reunion), Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. It is the only regional organisation in Africa composed exclusively of islands. These islands face a number of vulnerability issues: despite their vast exclusive economic zones, they remain particularly vulnerable to security problems, encompassing health, maritime and food security issues.
The European Union has been the leading development partner of the IOC for over 35 years. Through more than 40 development projects across 10 sectors and a total budget of 256 million euros, the European Union has been supporting the IOC and its Member States in progressing towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While a lot has been implemented under this partnership, its achievements are little known to citizens of the region.
We have therefore organized two key events, accessible to everyone, to showcase the EU-IOC shared commitment to a sustainable Indian Ocean:
• « Un engagement commun pour une Indianocéanie durable » an exhibition about the results of the EU-IOC partnership in all 17 SDGs including panels with facts and figures and digital tablets to allow visitors to discover through images the diversity of projects implemented by the IOC and the EU.
• A series of three conferences to launch a strategic reflection on our common future: a) "The IOC-EU partnership: What is the added value for the region? What are the results?"; b) "Shared ocean: security and opportunities"; c) "Climate change: What are the challenges and what concrete actions ought to be taken in the Indian Ocean?" 12 experts were invited as speakers to share their expertise and the discussions.
The events were a great success: 300 visitors for the exhibition and 250 participants in the conferences. They were able to discover with facts, figures, videos and testimonies on how the IOC-EU cooperation is having a positive impact on the ground. For example, they were able to see that for SDG 6 - Clean water and sanitation, the EU and the IOC have funded a desalination unit powered by solar energy that ensures a regular supply of drinking water to 2,400 people in Rodrigues, an island which is prone to water shortage.
All our partners have lauded the quality of those events, which were widely covered in the press and largely promoted on social media. Guided by the spirit of their motto 'Diversity – Exchange – Solidarity', the EU and the IOC teamed up to organize those events, that have undoubtedly helped to promote a positive image of the partnership.
The exhibition, which we inaugurated in Mauritius in October 2020, will now travel to the other Member States of the Indian Ocean Commission throughout the year 2021.