Thursday, June 20, 2024

As a maritime nation by history and geography, and as a member of the European Union who is particularly focused on maritime economy, Italy has been playing a leading role, both bilaterally and within regional fora, in strengthening dialogue between the countries of the Mediterranean. 

As a IORA dialogue partner, we aim to widen relations between the Mediterranean region and IORA member states, while promoting growth, sustainable development and regional economic cooperation. 

We believe it is crucial today to stimulate the development of an enlarged cooperation area, covering both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, two regions which can rely on an extraordinary richness of natural resources, cultural heritage and diversity of people, territories and economies.

Italy and IORA, a partnership aimed at global challenges

Italy supports the values, principles and objectives promoted by IORA. In our view, IORA plays a key role in the regional architecture, and is an ideal partner to address global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and maritime security, in a multilateral setting.

Italy’s attention to the Indian Ocean region has increased in recent years, in light of the growing importance that this area has for our policy interests.

Following the interest shown by numerous Italian public and private bodies and organisations, the Italian government formally initiated the procedure for acquiring the status of dialogue partner in march 2019, achieving it in November the same year.

We believe that a concrete and operational cooperation between Italy and IORA not only increases Italy’s involvement in a region where the challenges related to sustainable development and maritime safety are significant. It also allows to reap mutual benefits that the extraordinary development of the countries of the Indian Ocean region offers to companies of all countries involved.

Italy as IORA dialogue partner, a focus on blue economy

Today, our partnership with IORA is focused on the goals we can achieve together. Placed at the center of the Mediterranean, Italy has traditionally supported policies aimed at promoting the blue economy

Italian stakeholders have encouraged the Italian government to to go ahead and engage with IORA. They have joined forces together in an Italy-IORA Committee and articulate their participation along the lines covered in the IORA Blue Economy priority pillars, a valuable instrument to direct energy and resources.

  • Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Renewable Ocean Energy
  • Seaports and Shipping
  • Offshore Hydrocarbons and Seabed Minerals
  • Marine Biotechnology, Research and Development
  • Tourism

In the fisheries sector, Italy is the second largest fishing producer in the Mediterranean, with catches of around 15% on average (249,500 tonnes) and a value of around 29% (corresponding to around EUR 754 million) of all the catches of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In the field of aquaculture, 25% of the fish we consume comes from water breeding farms, and the weight of this resource may double in a few years.

Promoting sustainable fisheries management and sustainable aquaculture development is a field where we can fruitfully cooperate with IORA member States. Last October we held an Italy-IORA event in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily. Meetings were arranged for experts on fisheries from India, Indonesia and Malaysia, and authorities from Kenya. They are now developing agreements and collaborations directly with Assoittica, and with the fishing District of Mazara del Vallo.

Italy imports more than 70% of the fish it consumes. A large percentage of the fish imported is purchased from some IORA member States, so Italy has an interest in increasing market access for companies also in other IORA member States and facilitating their understanding of strict European policies and regulations. If these aspects are not addressed, exchanges and common development remain difficult and time-consuming.

Furthermore, Italian importers look to increasing the number of species of fish currently consumed (only around 20) with specific campaigns aimed at the Italian and European public.

In the field of renewable ocean energy, the Italian government supports the technological development of systems for the production of energy from waves and tides, a sector in which Italy is at the forefront of research for the development and testing of prototype and pre-commercial devices for stored energy conversion.

The sector of shipbuilding and marine robotics involves in Italy over 40,000 companies, with a turnover of 15 billion euros, and employs more than 230,000 people. On October 21st 2019, the Italian Maritime Cluster held an Italy-IORA event at its headquarters in Rome, touching upon one of the most significant aspects of maritime environment, the issue of sustainable maritime transport and de-carbonization.

Environmental protection is another key component in IORA priorities where we believe that Italy has a lot to offer, also through its research and academic world.

Italy announced in 2016 substantial contributions to UNEP for the construction of marine protected areas, which were increased the next year after the UN First High Level Conference on the Oceans. 

Italy has implemented a series of bilateral initiatives in favour of small islands of the Pacific in this sector. We are now increasing the list to include  IORA members such as Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles.

The Italian Coast Guard also provides support to non-EU countries and enhances anti-pollution response emergency planning of coastal administrations, including plans to fight pollution and to better coordinate response to cross-border events. We wish to enhance this collaboration now with IORA member States.

Sustainable tourism and development of coastal communities

In this field we believe in the importance of training, capacity building and women empowerment. 

Italy can offer training opportunities on wide-ranging issues with institutes such as CNR, CIHEAM Bari, the Italian Civil Protection Agency in the field of resilience and disaster management and prevention, and also in the maritime security sector, environment protection and control of IUU fishing, involving the Italian Coast Guard.

Our National Center for Research Institutes of Bologna, Naples, Siena and Trapani (some have already joined the IORA Academic network) also look forward to collaborating and exchanging information on issues such as Seabed Exploration and Mapping and Marine Biotechnology Research and Development.