President Ranil Wickremesinghe Engages in IORA Day 2024 Celebrations, Emphasizes Sustainable Indian Ocean

President Ranil Wickremesinghe led the vibrant festivities of the 2024 IORA Day celebration at Galle Face Green today (10), underlining the imperative of “Ensuring a Sustainable Indian Ocean for Future Generations”. As Sri Lanka helms the Chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), this event holds significant resonance.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), comprising 23 Member States and 12 Dialogue Partners, stands as a crucial platform for fostering regional cooperation. Sri Lanka’s assumption of the Chair of IORA last year marked a pivotal moment, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spearheading the commemoration of the inaugural ‘IORA Day’ under Sri Lanka’s leadership.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), established in 1997, is commemorating its 27th anniversary this year. Sri Lanka, recognized for its efforts to restore mangrove ecosystems, was recently honoured with the United Nations World Restoration Flagship Award.

Against this backdrop, with Sri Lanka emerging as a leading advocate for ocean conservation and sustainable development, hosting the celebration of “IORA” Day 2024 holds significant importance. The event witnessed the participation of over a thousand students engaging in various activities.

This year’s theme, “Sustainable Indian Ocean for Future Generations”, underscores the paramount importance of ocean conservation and awareness. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, amidst the festivities, actively engaged with school children participating in various educational activities, and perused stalls showcasing initiatives by IORA member states and government institutions.

The culmination of the celebrations at Galle Face Green in Colombo witnessed a rich array of events, including the recognition of Art competition winners, exhibitions of selected artwork, and an array of ocean-related educational stalls. Diplomatic Missions of IORA Member and Dialogue Partner States, alongside UN agencies based in Colombo, lent their presence to this momentous occasion.

President Wickremesinghe took the opportunity to interact with the enthusiastic students participating in the event’s activities. Additionally, he visited the stalls set up by the embassies of member countries of the association and explored exhibition booths established by government institutions, further enhancing the significance of the celebration.

In 2024, as part of the celebration of the 27th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), captivating marine life shaped kites were released into the sky, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Additionally, all the schoolchildren present were given the unique opportunity to embark on a sea trip aboard the Sri Lanka Navy’s “Princess Lanka” boat, aimed at providing them with a deeper understanding of the Indian Ocean.

The event was attended by dignitaries including Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Minister of State Tharaka Balasuriya, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aruni Wijewardene, Secretary-General of IORA Dr. Salman Al Farisi, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of member countries, diplomatic officials, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera and other esteemed guests. Their presence added to the significance of the occasion, highlighting the importance of collaboration and cooperation within the Indian Ocean region.