DSCC Interventions – 24/3/23

Date: 24 March 2023

Good morning everyone, Mr. Chairman, Dear Delegates,

On this day of discussions dedicated to the Two-Year Rule, which could see seabed mining begin long before there is sufficient scientific data to ensure the effective protection of our greatest ally in the climate crisis, the deep ocean, I wish to address you to bring the voice of my generation. 

Before that, I would like to thank and congratulate Vanuatu for its decision to join the call for a precautionary pause; along with twelve other states, including the pioneer country, Palau, and Chile, the Federated States of Micronesia, France, Fiji, Germany, New Zealand and Panama, who reiterated their positions at this meeting.

I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Hinano, Uncle Sol, Jonathan, Alanna, the representatives of the Pacific Peoples whose voices must resonate here. The Pacific communities they represent will be the ones directly impacted by the decisions you, the delegates, make here. As part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition delegation, I am speaking today to bring the voice of another group that is not well represented here: those of my generation and the next.

My name is Anne-Sophie, I am the French representative of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and with the #LookDown collective, which I created with the activist Camille Etienne here, we have mobilized tens of thousands of young people asking our governments to take a stand against deep sea mining, first in France, then today in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries around the world. Today more than ever, these tens of thousands of young people are watching you. 

Dear delegates, we are witnesses to the decisions you will make in the coming months. These decisions that will be taken here, in the shelter of this conference center, will have irreversible consequences, for biodiversity as for the climate. The young people whose voices I represent today must be an integral part of these decisions, because they will affect our lives.

Delegates, the science is clear: we do not have the luxury of opening the Pandora’s box of deep-sea mining. We cannot afford to sacrifice our greatest ally in the climate crisis, the deep ocean, on the altar of the extractivist model that is already a thing of the past.

The living conditions of my generation, and those of the next, will already be profoundly altered by the devastating impacts of the environmental crisis. Deep-sea mining will only exacerbate them. And you still have the power to prevent it. 

Dear delegates, you, who represent the member states of the Council of the International Seabed Authority, must be at the helm of the decisions that will impact our lives. You must ensure that my generation, your children’s generation, will have a healthy ocean, that is, livable conditions on land. 

When you make your decisions here, I ask you to keep in mind the cry of those tens of thousands of young people of my generation. We are standing on a narrow and decisive line: you are at the place where you can choose to have the courage to take that step aside, to listen to the scientists, and not to make decisions that will send us into the abyss of history. 

It is now or never. 

We have a very brief comment on DR 104. It is not only the costs and expenses incurred by the Authority that the contractor must be liable for, but all effects, including environmental effects, of the violation. This would seem obvious, and is completely missing, due to the lack of a liability regime. The polluter pays principle requires nothing less.

Effective compliance is dependent on effective control, and the issue of effective compliance has yet to be discussed by the Council. A recent example of the issue of effective control and compliance is the takeover of UK Seabed Resources by Norwegian company Loke Minerals. It seems blindingly obvious that effective control has changed from the United States to Norway, yet like previous takeovers such as DeepGreen’s takeover of Nautilus’s ownership of Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd (TOML), and other issues with TMC subsidiaries the LTC does not investigate the new owners and, in practice, new operators, at all. Not only are changes in control going uninvestigated, longstanding issues of effective control like the question of where effective control of The Metals Company and NORI lies, are not being pursued. This is not only contrary to the principle of common heritage of humankind, which underpins the Convention and which is reinforced by BBNJ, but is, as was shown in a paper for the ISA by Andre Rojas and Freedom Ka Phillips, inconsistent with the requirements of UNCLOS. Of course effective control of UK Seabed Resources in any sense has now changed to Norway. 

So to address  the concept of effective compliance, as is required by the liability provisions of Article 139 of the Convention, without addressing effective control is meaningless.

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