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8 Nov 2022

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

DR 1

Thank you. We just have a brief observation to bring to the attention of delegates. ITLOS said in its Advisory Opinion that It should be stressed that the obligation to conduct an environmental impact assessment is a direct obligation under the Convention and a general obligation under customary international law, and likewise we would add that the precautionary principle is also part of customary international law.

DR 2 – Paragraph 2

We just have a comment on the title as well as the discussion taking place at the moment about principles versus policies.

On the title, we believe that Draft Regulation 2 must revert to being called fundamental principles, as it should include critical principles such as the common heritage of humankind, the precautionary principle, effective protection of the marine environment and no loss of biodiversity. These principles are cornerstones of the Convention and international environmental law and are by  their nature fundamental and cannot be weighed against other matters. They’re critical to the interpretation and application of regulations.

So likewise, we do not support policies and approaches being included in the title as they are by their nature weighed against each other, whereas fundamental principles such as the common heritage of humankind cannot be displaced by other principles or policies.

DR 2 – Paragraph 3

On Paragraph 3 we think this is an important provision, placing in context the relevant provisions of the Convention. It is also relevant to the expressed concerns and positions of an increasing number of countries on the importance of adequate scientific evidence.

Given that a number of delegations have said they agree with the objective and content, we suggest it should be left here for now. We cannot presuppose what will happen later, so it should not be deleted. On the face of it, and as it stands, it provides important guidance  to the Authority, in underlining the need for adequate scientific evidence, the importance of preventing harmful changes to the marine environment.

DR 2 – Paragraph 4

In Paragraph 4, we do continue to suggest there should be fundamental principles reflecting Article 145 paragraphs (a) and (b) which would in addition to the items from roman numeral (i) to (vii) include that:

  • There will be no loss of biodiversity;
  • That rare or fragile ecosystems and their habitat will not be depleted or threatened; 
  • That species will not be endangered; 
  • That other forms of marine life will be protected; 
  • And, that there will be no interference with marine ecosystems and their resilience, or with ecosystem services, underwater cultural heritage or other harmful effects, including ecological balance, biological diversity and ecological integrity;
  • Robust and independent science.

We also suggest that the definitions of an ecosystem approach, referring to the CBD Decision V/6 and of the polluter pays principle according to Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development need to be re-inserted as well as the best available science and information, and the precautionary principle according to Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration.

On transparency, we welcome the currently proposed provisions on access to data and information, and note that under Article 14 of Annex III of UNCLOS, Data necessary for the formulation by the Authority of rules, regulations and procedures concerning protection of the marine environment and safety, other than equipment design data, shall not be deemed proprietary.

We like both Germany’s proposal of public participation and also Norway’s suggested term stakeholder participation as well as Nigeria’s suggestion of both. What is important is that there is participation in decision-making.

Finally on inter-generational equity, those who were at our side event yesterday will have seen a powerful argument and example of the importance of including younger generations throughout decision-making processes. 

There is after all ample precedent in Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration for the needs of present and future generations.

Thank you

DR 3(d)

We know that pollution, such as from plumes, can travel well beyond contract areas and indeed beyond adjacent States – with some estimates suggesting thousands of kilometers, though it could be further. This pollution may affect for example fish populations that may themselves travel beyond the affected area, such as tuna.

These issues involve the interests and concerns of any state, not just coastal States. 

This discussion underlines that we know so little about the effects of seabed mining and their scope that it is impossible to even craft effective regulations. This fully supports the calls for a moratorium, precautionary pause or ban.

7 Nov 2022

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) today welcomed the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron that France is calling for a ban on deep-sea mining.

In his opening speech at COP27, President Macron stated that “La France demande l’interdiction de toute exploitation des grands fonds marins, j’assume cette position et je la porterai dans les enceintes internationales” – France is calling for a ban on all exploitation of the deep seabed – a position which I will relay in international fora.

Continue reading PRESS RELEASE: FRANCE CALLS FOR BAN ON DEEP-SEA MINING AT COP27

4 Nov 2022

UK

  • The UK stated that they are committed to fully engaging in negotiations underway and emphasised that they are keen to see the ISA Council finalise regulations by July 2023.

South Africa

  • On contractors compensating for the loss of common heritage of mankind, South Africa stated that – “You can’t just mine take away the minerals which are common heritage of mankind, and expect that we will allow you to just pay 2% And then off you go.”

Costa Rica

  • The delegation stated that we have neither the required legal framework nor the scientific data, it is why in July 2022 we have made an appeal, we apply the precautionary approach or principle.
  • Costa Rica stated that it is impossible to pretend that we’ll have a legal framework by July 23 on which we should have consensus and that it is not because of a lack of goodwill that we will conclude in July, but simply because it’s something impossible.
  • Costa Rica stated that 90% of the delegates have noted that regulations may not be possible to adopt in July 2023.

Russia

  • The delegation stated that the completion and agreement of regulations need more time, much more than 8 months remaining until July 2023.

Chile

  • Chile stated that they do not see how damage from deep-sea mining would be fixed by planting trees or by making our lives greener…
  • They stated that it is no secret that ⅓ of the members of this Council are sponsoring States so it’s no secret they are interested in granting contracts for exploitation. But a lot of these countries agree with us.
  • Chile reiterated the need for a precautionary pause, to protect the heritage of this generation and future generations.
  • Chile stated that a large number of delegations has not been taken into account in the proposed roadmap.

Germany

  • Germany stated that our primary objective remains a timely adoption of exploitation regulations, standards and guidelines that provide for strict environmental protection.
  • The delegation stated that commencement of deep-sea mining is the single most important decision this Authority has to take, and must concern a majority of the Council.

Canada

  • Canada stated that seabed mining should only take place if consistent with article 145 of UNCLOS and ensures effective protection of the marine environment.
  • The delegation stated that they were not in favor of  approving a plan of work without necessary regulations in place & robust inspection mechanism.

Brazil

  • Brazil stated that at this moment, exploitation contracts should not be granted until an ambitious and accountable mining code has been approved.”
  • No contract should be granted under the 2-year-rule, so difficult to achieve before July23 
  • Suggest that ‘adoption of regulation’ in the roadmap be replaced by ‘review of progress.’

Fiji

  • Fiji called for an extension of the July deadline for working groups to complete their work.

Netherlands

  • The Netherlands stated that in the absence of a fit for purpose regulatory framework exploitation of deep seabed should not commence.

Mexico

  • Mexico stated that we need to develop a legal framework to allow responsible exploitation of the deep sea in the future and we need to take time to do so.

Australia

  • Australia stated that we think that we should continue in good faith to complete the regulations by July of next year

Italy

  • Italy stated that the quality of regulations should not be weakened due to imposed deadlines.

India

  • The delegation stated that “As we are dealing with commercial exploitation of the common heritage of humankind we should not be in a hurry or to be seen to be in a hurry however the 2 year clause did push us to work in this area. We should try to reach consensus and conciliation which is preferred under the convention. India wishes to try to proceed by 2023.
  • India stated that the proposed roadmapo puts a lot of pressure on us and our resources

Japan

  • Agreed with the UK that the Council should continue the work so that we can achieve our goal of adopting regulations by July 2023.

Cuba

  • Cuba called for caution stating that we cannot allow mistakes to be made that will fall on the shoulders of future generations. 
  • The delegation called for transparency in harnessing and protecting the general environment as a whole stating that we cannot move forward until there is a robust framework in place for this in place. We need to guarantee equitable sharing of common heritage of humankind for all, in particular developing countries.

Panama

  • Panama reiterated that given the lack of scientific information for us to take decisions based on evidence, there is a need to implement a precautionary pause with regard to starting mining.

Spain

  • Spain stated that “The two year rule does not matter if we do not have adequate environmental regulations in place.
  • The delegation reiterated calls for a precautionary pause.

Singapore

  • Stated that they joined the emerging consensus that scientific knowledge and robust rules are needed to ensure damage from DSM. With absence of scientific knowledge, exploitation should not proceed.

Switzerland

  • Switzerland stated that with climate, biodiversity loss and pollution, the mandate to protect the marine environment is crucial. Most of the potentially affected ecosystems have not been mapped or studied. Switzerland supports more research to learn more about these areas in order to effectively develop regulations. Switzerland calls for the precautionary approach and regulations and institutional arrangements are required to meet obligations under article 145 of the convention.

Portugal

  • The delegation stated that like many other delegations, we feel it is necessary to conclude these regulations before any exploitation. We need effective compensation, protection of biodiversity and marine environment etc. Technology has to be shown now to demonstrate that it will not hurt  the marine environment.

Nauru

  • Nauru stated that as sponsoring State and in good faith, will not entertain lodging an application in July 2023. We do not wish to prejudice the adoption of regulations by that deadline.
  • “Like the UK and others, we remain optimistic that together we can make significant progress between now and July 2023 and feel confident by the end of July session next year, we will be significantly advanced.”

USA

  • The USA stated that they were keenly concerned about the possibility that we do not have sufficient science to mitigate the efforts of mining.
  • They also highlighted that the US continental shelf is adjacent to the CCZ and indigenous communities have potential to be directly affected by negative effects.
  • The USA stated that it is difficult to see regulations being finalized by July 2023.

Norway

  • Norway stated that they are committed to trying to finish the regulations by 2023.
  • The delegation stated they are committed to obligation to finalise and believe council must redouble efforts

Belgium

  • Belgium said that if the situation is that there are no regulations in July, we will have sleepwalked into the deadline without regulation – there is an optimistic idea that regulations will be adopted.

France

  • France stated that they “support the countries that made an appeal for a precautionary pause absent of mining code, which means that no exploitation contract can be authorized by the authority as long as a legal framework sufficiently that protects the environment sufficiently will not be in place.”

4 Nov 2022

On what if what if an application for full, commercial scale deep-sea mining is submitted in the absence of regulations

On behalf of DSCC, Oceans North, and The Ocean Foundation

We appreciate the opportunity to intervene on this crucial topic and express our appreciation that sufficient time is being dedicated to this discussion. 

Since the creation of UNCLOS, our knowledge of the deep sea and ocean as a whole has grown exponentially. The more we learn, the clearer it becomes that our lives are linked to – and dependent on – the ocean. This is not just a legal or economic discussion. Opening our ocean to deep-sea mining without understanding the consequences would be an unacceptable planetary gamble. If that gamble goes wrong, we are risking a domino effect of unintended environmental consequences for our and future generations.

There is an ethical dimension to this issue regarding our relationship as humankind to the ocean. It would be incomprehensible that a minority of countries could or would authorize deep-sea mining as of next year in spite of lack of support, disagreement, or opposition from a significant number of ISA members and across a broad spectrum of society. This is a decision that would have global ramifications and would go down in history as a breach of our right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and the rights of future generations to a liveable world. 

We urge States to take the time needed and to make responsible, evidence-based decisions anchored in the precautionary principle. We must recognize that the obligations to protect and preserve the marine environment are more important now than ever. In light of increasing stressors on the ocean, the climate and biodiversity crises, and our growing understanding of the interconnectivity of the ocean, climate, and terrestrial ecosystems, it is crucial that the decisions made by the ISA prevent further harm. We reiterate our thanks to the countries that have expressed support for a precautionary pause or moratorium to date – in our eyes, this is the only viable way to ensure the long-term protection of the marine environment. The future of our ocean is in your hands and the world is watching.

3 Nov 2022

Transfer of rights & obligations under a contract

Thank you Mr President and good morning delegates. We are speaking on behalf of the DSCC and Oceans North. 

The procedure and criteria for consideration of a request for the transfer of rights and obligations under a contract for exploration and supporting documents lack a discussion, let alone formulation, of a key issue of a transfer is effective control, as Costa Rica outlined.

Continue reading DSCC Interventions – 3.11.22

2 Nov 2022

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT 

Annex IV

This Annex cannot be developed properly as there is simply not enough scientific information to do so, for any of the three types of mining (being nodules, cobalt-rich crusts, and hydrothermal vents).  As we have seen with the recent NORI EIA, there is no environmental baseline available.

Also in terms of overview, as some delegations have said in other agenda items, the distinction between EIA and EIS is artificial and leads to confusion and duplication and they should be combined.

In terms of process, there is no proper structure to consider EIAs; no independent scientific evidence; no hearing; and no appeal or review of decisions or recommendations. There is no scientific committee, and place for stakeholders to submit independent scientific information and make comments on the applicant’s scientific evidence. 

Rigorous examination of scientific evidence, including by peer review as Costa Rica noted, and the participation of independent scientists and submission of independent scientific reports is crucial.  A forum for such independent science to be submitted by concerned States and submitters is  a fundamental element of a robust EIA process.

2 Nov 2022

Ecologistas en Acción- Madrid/Kingston, 2 de noviembre de 2022

Alemania, Costa Rica y Panamá se han sumado al llamamiento español durante la reunión de la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos que empezó este lunes

Esta semana se ha inaugurado en Kingston, Jamaica, la reunión del Consejo de la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos (ISA), organismo intergubernamental responsable por la regulación de los fondos marinos en aguas internacionales. La reunión internacional se produce en un momento crítico, en el que varios Estados pretenden forzar que se autorice el inicio de la explotación en 2023.

Continue reading Comunicado de prensa: Se multiplican las voces a favor de una “pausa precautoria” a la minería submarina