IORA Council of Ministers meeting - Country statement
Foreign Minister Sabry, Excellencies, ayubowan, vannakkam
I begin by acknowledging and thanking Sri Lanka, as incoming Chair and our generous host this week.
I also recognise the important contribution of outgoing Chair Bangladesh, and incoming Vice-Chair India.
Australia is a proud Indian Ocean country, enriched by the vibrant diaspora communities drawn from our region.
We have the Indian Ocean's longest coastline, its largest Search and Rescue Zone, and its largest Exclusive Economic Zone.
Reflecting these deep connections, Australia is pleased to be hosting the Indian Ocean Conference in 2024.
As a founding Member State, Australia strongly supports IORA.
IORA, as the only ministerial-level forum spanning the Indian Ocean, has the reach and mandate to build stronger partnerships in support of the kind of region we all want to see.
A stable, prosperous and resilient region.
A region in which no country dominates, and no country is dominated.
I acknowledge the important role that Dialogue Partners play in IORA's work and I thank them for their support.
Australia looks forward to working closely with Japan, as its Country Coordinator, and other Dialogue Partners to deepen cooperation on priority issues.
In August, Australia launched its new International Development Policy to support a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
We reaffirmed our commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs.
IORA's Outlook on the Indo-Pacific recognised the strong alignment between the SDGs and IORA's priorities.
Australia will continue to proactively support IORA to advance these aims, for example through our Australian-funded IORA Blue Carbon Hub.
The Hub is empowering Member States to protect and restore blue carbon ecosystems.
I thank Indonesia for co-hosting the Hub's recent thinktank series on Nature Based Solutions for Coastal Adaptation in Bali.
The Hub's sought-after Early Career Professionals' Program nurtures the expertise of three leading scientists or policy makers from across the region each year.
I am delighted that the Hub is currently hosting scientists from Bangladesh, Madagascar and Oman.
Australia is equally focused on safeguarding a stable and resilient Indian Ocean region, built on respect for the international rules-based order.
As recognised in IORA's Outlook, Member States have an abiding interest in a region that operates according to international law, especially the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
That is why Russia must be held to account for its illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, as a gross violation of international law.
Russia's war is compounding immense human suffering and propelling the global crisis in food and energy security, especially in our region.
Australia calls on Russia to unconditionally withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and end this war.
Australia is committed to investing in IORA to deliver on our shared vision for the region.
We are pleased to be co-leading IORA's workstream on Maritime Safety and Security with India.
Building on Sri Lanka's able leadership of this workstream, Australia looks forward to expanding the strong partnerships on maritime safety and security we enjoy with many of your countries.
I thank Member States for their support of Australia's term as Chair of the Working Group on Trade and Investment.
We want to continue working with IORA Member States on the most pressing regional issues, including climate change. Australia is strengthening IORA Member States' capacity to respond, including through offering virtual short courses on climate change adaptation and mitigation over the next three years.
I am pleased to announce a new IORA project by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO.
CSIRO will deliver a series of technical workshops to help map and classify the biological, ecological and physical attributes of the Indian Ocean.
This information will help decision-makers better protect the marine environment, including under the recently agreed High Seas Biodiversity Treaty.
I look forward to supporting Sri Lanka as Chair, in partnership with Members and Dialogue Partners, to strengthen IORA's contribution to our region over the coming year.
It is up to all of us to the shape the Indian Ocean region that we want to see.
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