Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller has been appointed as chair of the academic group of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). IORA is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
Mr Cecil Masoka, director of Multilateral Cooperation, Department of Science and Technology (DST), announced the appointment on behalf of DST and the Steering Committee of the South African Chapter of IORA.
Masoka said South Africa’s participation in IORA is strategic for the country, specifically in contributing to Operation Phakisa’s project within area of the oceans economy. Operation Phakisa focuses on four critical areas of the blue economy, namely marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture (fish farms), and marine protection services and effective governance of the South African coastline and oceans.
The academic group represents South Africa in meetings of senior officials of IORA, coordinate IORA activities in the country, assisting government in formulating South Africa’s research agenda for IORA, and participate in inter-governmental meetings associated with the IORA academic group.
On her priorities as chair of the academic group, Bohler-Muller believes coordinating academics from various disciplines to do further research on IORA and the blue economy takes the top spot. Other tasks would be to assist DST and the Department of International Relationships and Coordination (DIRCO) in developing an inter-departmental strategy when South Africa takes over the chair of IORA in 2017-2019; to ensure that national priorities such as the oceans economy in Operation Phakisa are mainstreamed into the SA strategy; and assisting in building collaboration with other African members of IORA.
‘This is a chance for SA to bring to the fore sustainability when developing the potential of the oceans to ensure economic growth and job creation. Some of the thematic areas include maritime safety, fishing and aquaculture, environmental protection, climate change, renewable energy, for example wave and wind energy.’
And gender empowerment will be included in all these areas, says Bohler-Muller.