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12 Nov 2022

The deliberations of this Council meeting, while our governments meet in Egypt to tackle the climate crisis, have shown clearly that humanity has arrived at a crossroads. 

What has brought us here is a broken relationship with nature and a system that puts profit before sustainability, that perpetuates our dependence on finite resources, damages the environment, and causes scarcity, inequity and insecurity in our societies. Among those benefiting from this system are corporations, such as oil and gas companies, that even today continue to accumulate wealth while people and communities are left in crisis. The UN Secretary General was speaking for scientists, youth and citizens across the world when he said in his opening remarks at the UNFCCC COP27 that we are on “a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”. 

In this Council meeting, “good faith” is equated to forging ahead on a pathway we know is perilous, by empowering mining corporations to strip mine the last remaining pristine areas of our planet for profit. By letting deep-sea mining happen, possibly as soon as next year, our generation is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, knowing well that the consequences will be felt by those to come. 

But as we stand together at this crossroads, we know there is another path. It has been shown to us by millions of people worldwide who care deeply about the ocean, and a growing number of States namely Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, New Zealand, Germany, Panama and France who want to hit the brakes on deep-sea mining.  

Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have wide-ranging and even catastrophic impacts, wiping out fragile habitats and species and disturbing the ocean carbon cycle1, we ask governments to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. 

To those States not yet onboard we say this: Take the foot off the accelerator and hit the brakes. We urge you to listen to the calls for precaution and protection and come at the next Council meeting ready to walk alongside those who are resisting deep-sea mining, for the benefit of humankind and in ‘good faith’ towards future generations. A deep-sea mining moratorium is the way forward.

1 Undisturbed: The deep ocean’s vital role in safeguarding us from crisis, is a new report by scientists from the Benioff Ocean Initiative, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, highlighting the important role of the deep ocean in mitigating climate change and warning of the serious threats the deep sea faces.

11 Nov 2022

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) today concluded the 27th Meeting of the Council amidst mounting international resistance to the controversial emerging deep-sea mining industry.

As the moment of truth draws ever closer, the political momentum against deep-sea mining is gaining ground. In the space of six months alone, 12 States have made bold political decisions that put nature where it should be: front and centre. Over the course of the meeting, France, New Zealand, Germany and Panama joined Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Ecuador in calling to pull back from the brink of a vast new extractive sector on the grounds of the environmental, social and economic risks. 

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a ban in an opening address at COP27 and France reaffirmed this position during the ISA meeting this week, warning: “As the effects of climate change become increasingly threatening and the erosion of biodiversity continues to accelerate, today it does not seem reasonable to hastily launch a new project, that of deep seabed mining, the environmental impacts of which are not yet known and may be significant for such ancient ecosystems which have a very delicate equilibrium.” 

The DSCC and its member organisations called on countries to prioritise safeguarding the health of the ocean by defending the deep from destructive exploitation.

The DSCC’s Campaign Lead Sofia Tsenikli stated: “World leaders are finally waking up to the imminent risks of deep-sea mining and the need to protect the blue heart of our planet that sustains us all. Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have catastrophic impacts, we urge States to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. The DSCC welcomes the leadership shown by countries calling for a stop to deep-sea mining and we urge all States to follow before it is too late.

The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI), a global network of deep sea scientists, present throughout negotiations, continued to warn delegates that species extinction and damage to fragile deep sea ecosystems would be inevitable and irreversible if the industry were to go ahead. A new scientific report presented during the meeting at a side event hosted by the DSCC and Sustainable Ocean Alliance, also highlights the risks that deep-sea mining poses to critical carbon stores and biodiversity in the deep sea.

The ISA meeting focused on negotiating a ‘mining code’ that, if adopted, would allow countries to apply for mining contracts as early as July 2023, due to the triggering of a loophole referred to as the “two-year rule”. Despite a number of States backing variously a precautionary pause, moratorium or ban, there is still a very real possibility that this destructive industry could commence next year as countries such as the UK and Norway are pushing for adoption of regulations by July 2023. 

On the penultimate day of Council, serious concerns were raised about the ability of the Authority to act as an effective regulator for an industry that could open the largest mining operation ever seen in human history. Almost unanimous concern was raised across Council on repeated violations that have already taken place by would-be miners during the exploration phase of deep-sea mining. Numerous delegations also raised concerns over the Authority’s recent approval of test-mining, which was granted behind closed doors, without any consultation with stakeholders or ISA member countries. 

The DSCC’s Legal Advisor, Duncan Currie stated that “It is clear that as it stands the Authority is not fit to act as an effective regulator of a new, destructive industry that threatens to incur enormous damage on deep-sea habitats and ecosystems.” Currie added: “Rather than catalyse the rush to mine the deep, the ISA should focus on promoting deep-sea scientific research, to advance the protection of critical and fragile deep-sea habitats.” 

Emma Wilson, the DSCC Policy Officer stated: “Rather than opening up a new frontier of industrial mining and extending the footprint of terrestrial mining into the depths of our ocean, we should be moving towards more environmentally and socially responsible models of production, consumption and reuse.” Wilson added “World leaders have a unique opportunity to take concrete action to protect one of our planet’s last wilderness areas from irreversible destruction – the only way forward is a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

ENDS

For further media information, please contact:

Spokespeople available for comment

11 Nov 2022

DR 22

This intervention is given on behalf of The Ocean Foundation as well as DSCC. 

This provision raises the possibility of a contract being pledged as security, and therefore of the mortgagor stepping in the place of the contractor or selling the contract: then the provisions ensuring the suitability of the contractor in Draft Regulation 13 are pointless. Anybody could then be doing the mining. Further, if a contract can be pledged as security, that could render any financial security meaningless, as the only real asset could be the contract itself: a circular outcome that further brings into question where, in what format, and in how much money would  actually be set aside to fulfill various Contractor obligations under the Regulations.

No public participation would have addressed the technical and financial fitness of the owner of the contract and effective control would be rendered meaningless.

Being able to transfer contracts in this way for purely financial reasons could enable a whole new contractor to carry out activities in the Area.

To be specific: we noted last week that Tongan contractor TOML was bought by DeepGreen, yet the due diligence on technical and financial appropriateness was only done for Nautilus, which was by that stage in liquidation.

DR 23

Thank you, on behalf of Oceans North and DSCC, we welcome the comments from PEW, and wish to comment further. We consider DR 23 to be a dangerous provision, as it allows an entity other than the assessed applicant to carry out mining. There is no residual discretion to refuse a transfer even though the identity of the contractor is very important. Currently DR 23 (paragraph 7) reads the LTC “shall recommend approval of the application”  if criteria are satisfied. There is no discretion. It would be unacceptable that a whole different contractor should step into the previous contractor’s shoes, so to speak, automatically after the mining application has been predicated on the assessment of the identity of the applicant under DR 13.

DR 24

This is a critical provision about change in control. The discussions here must be aligned with the discussions of effective control in the institutional working group. We have three points about this draft regulation 24.

Firstly, controlling interest is not defined in paragraph 1 and must be discussed in the context of the Institutional Working Group. 

Secondly, currently as drafted in paragraph 3 the Secretary-General would have full power to determine whether the contractor will have the financial capability to meet its obligations under the exploitation contract. 

Thirdly, even if the Secretary-General does decide to notify the Commission, the only consequence under paragraph 4 is that the Commission shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Council. In other words, there are no consequences to a change in control: this goes to the heart of both effective control and the assessment of the contractor.

DR 27

Contractors should not be required to start commercial mining. There could be many reasons a contractor chooses not to start mining, including concerns or lack of information on the environmental effects of any mining.

Indeed, TMC itself stated in a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission SEC filing that, and I quote, “Operations in the CCZ are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem function. Impacts on CCZ biodiversity may never be completely and definitively known”. 

This lack of knowledge underlines why a moratorium on deep-sea mining is essential.

DR 28

Paragraph 3 would require the contractor to suspend production whenever such reduction or suspension is required to protect the Marine Environment from harm or to protect health and safety. We read this as additional to emergency orders to require the contractor to take action before any such measures.

But as discussed in other working groups, the threshold of serious harm is too dangerous. The applicable standard should be to protect the marine environment from any harm as required by  Article 145.

11 Nov 2022

Chile

  • Highlighted highlighted that in the case of damage to the environment, contractor’s should not have their contract renewed and shouldn’t have the opportunity to find sponsorship with another country “because we already know that this is a contractor who does not abide by the contract and who puts the environment at risk.”
  • Chile expressed concern that on transfer of rights and obligations UNCLOS does not discuss the ability to transfer partial rights.
  • Stated that an Environmental Performance Guarantee should be presented before activities in marine environment commence

Costa Rica

  • The delegation warned that if Sponsoring states are not notified of environmental damage by contractors, they could be responsible for damage.
  • Shared concerns around effective control
  • Stated that for certain regulations, the more they are read, the less sense they make.
  • Reiterated the mandate of the Authority “to protect the common heritage of humankind”
  • On the ISA’s updated roadmap – the delegation expressed that they were happy to see adoption of regulations on the ISA’s previous roadmap in July 2023 changed in line with Brazil’s proposal to ‘reviewed’ in July 2023, stating that this doesn’t represent a commitment and that we don’t have a sword of Damocles as Chile put it.
  • The delegation stated that not making enough progress is a likely possibility.
  • Costa Rica also requested more time for the roadmap in the next meeting and not the last day, to discuss issues once again.
  • Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica stated that the area contains the common heritage of mankind not only mineral minerals, it’s also a very useful reserve of biodiversity of and a source of unknown genetic resources and a strength for the cycles of the planet and offers a lot of ecosystem services.

UK

  • The UK stated that it is beyond the mandate of the ISA to ensure that it doesn’t monopolise the production of any single mineral and metal produced

Mexico

  • Stated that the decision to modify plans of work should be responsibility of technical rather than administrative entity of the ISA.

South Africa

  • The delegation agreed with Costa Rica on changes to the ISA’s roadmap

Australia

  • Called for more time to be allocated to LTC meeting next year.

Brazil

  • Stated that it is not realistic that regulations will be agreed by July 2023.
  • Commented that naming and shaming contractors that are repeatedly violating obligations could be counterproductive in reaching the opposite of the desirable effect, which is full compliance with the contract and with the authorities regulation

India

  • India called for next year’s meetings to be in hybrid mode.

China

  • China stated that the contractors will be the direct provider of environmental baseline information and contractors participation is is a must

Belgium

  • Proposed to establsih an informal inter-sessional dialogue to facilitate further discussions on the possible scenarios and other pertinent legal considerations with a view to explore commonalities on possible approaches and legal interpretations of the 2 year rule

10 Nov 2022

FRANCE

  • France reiterated President Macron’s call at COP27 for a ban on deep-sea mining. Read the full statement here.

COSTA RICA 

  • Congratulated and applauded France for their action. 
  • Oceans are already facing many challenges. We should not put additional pressures on this ecosystem, such as seabed mining, without respecting the effective protection of the marine environment. 
  • Effective protection is a precondition for mining and Costa Rica therefore suggested that the Authority lead an ambitious and strategic scientific programme to ensure there is enough information to assess applications and protection of the environment can be ensured. 
  • Regarding the approval of the NORI Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Costa Rica raised concerns about the contents of the EIS, the submission and publication process, and the inclusion of stakeholder consultation. 
  • The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) should make public the final EIA, including the way in which comments were taken into account and the detailed process followed for the decision to approve it without rationale. 
  • There need to be consequences for non-compliance and Costa Rica supports the intervention by The Netherlands for the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared. 
  • Costa Rica also called for the LTC to not use the silence procedure for future substantive issues

CHILE 

  • Congratulated France and do not believe deep-sea mining should happen until there is sufficient science and regulations to guide operations.
  • Regarding the the approval of the NORI EIS, which was approved online through the silence procedure by a small group within the LTC, Chile highlighted that this was a process which generated various reactions including in the international press, questioning procedures not only of the LTC but of the Authority itself.  
  • Chile questioned the use of silence procedure in important decision making – such as the approval of the NORI EIS. This procedure was used during the exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID pandemic and Chile questioned whether the LTC or the Secretariat ensured that all members of the LTC had read the message on time to obtain consensus on the NORI EIS. 
  • Supports the request made by the Netherlands that the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared. 

NORWAY 

  • A prohibition against deep-sea mining seems an unfortunate departure from our collective endeavours to complete the mining code and thus achieve our legal obligations under UNCLOS. 
  • Norway shares many of the concerns raised and believes in the objective that mining should not occur without the complete regulations in place. In our view, the best way to achieve this is to continue and to redouble our efforts to finish these regulations. 

GERMANY

  • Welcome the growing momentum towards precaution amongst members of the Authority. It is our responsibility to determine the conditions under which seabed mining could occur.
  • On the NORI EIS – proper public consultation should be mandatory even and especially after an EIS has been substantially revised by a contractor. While NORI’s initial EIS was subject to stakeholder consultation, significant revisions were made to the second and third versions of the EIS without further consultation.
  • Requested that a discussion be held regarding whether it is advisable to use the silence procedure in decision making of such important matters. 
  • Assume that NORI will provide the Authority with all environmental information collected during the mining tests after a reasonable period of time to evaluate the data and this information be made publicly available. 
  • Reiterated call from The Netherlands for the LTC to report back and explicitly mention the names of the contractors that have repeatedly ignored the call from both the Council as well as the LTC to abide by their contractual obligations. 

SINGAPORE

  • Cannot support such a proposal for a complete ban on deep-sea mining.  
  • Each of us should make every effort to develop the best possible exploitation regulations taking into account environmental protection and benefit sharing in the basis of our cooperation and mutual trust. 

PANAMA 

  • Panama reaffirmed their position that they will not support mining without sufficient scientific information. 
  • Support Costa Rica and the need for an independent scientific research programme. 

POLAND

  • Do not understand a complete ban in the Area. 

NEW ZEALAND

  • New Zealand reiterated their call for a conditional moratorium in areas beyond national jurisdiction until regulations can be agreed that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment. 
  • On the NORI EIS, New Zealand raised concerns about the stakeholder consultation process and encouraged Council members and the LTC to review stakeholder requirements. 
  • Raised that it is essential to have transparency on matters of great public interest and the issue of Council members being made aware of a situation through press releases of a contractor rather than the ISA. 

COOK ISLANDS

  • Disappointed by France’s position on a complete ban on deep-sea mining and questioned France’s continued role in the ISA as a council member and their expression contracts. 
  • The Cook Islands remains committed to working collectively and constructively on finalizing the draft expiration regulations with robust environmental standards in line with a firm and responsible precautionary approach. 

BRAZIL 

  • No exploitation should begin before the elaboration and adoption of robust, science-based mining code. 

NAURU 

  • Nauru recognises the need for a robust regulatory framework for the responsible exploitation of seafloor minerals to ensure deep-sea ecosystems are adequately protected. 
  • Remain committed to the conversation on solutions to the global climate crisis, including the sourcing of minerals critical to a low carbon future of which nodule collection, Nauru considers to form an integral part of. 
  • Echoed questions raised by the Cook Islands, including those concerning France’s two exploration contacts.  
  • Supports The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

SPAIN

  • We cannot begin exploitation until there are adequate regulations that guarantees the protection of the marine environment in accordance with the precautionary principle. 

RUSSIA 

  • Do not believe we can move into exploitation without robust regulations. 
  • Emphasized that the exploitation of mineral resources should be done in the interests of all countries, including developing countries. 

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA 

  • Micronesia welcomed points raised about the urgency to protect the ocean & by extension all of humankind and noted that the biodiversity and climate change crises were not in mind when UNCLOS was agreed.
  • Deep-sea mining cannot happen without sufficient scientific information. 

INDIA 

  • Mining should only occur under robust regulations and can only proceed when these regulations are in place. 

ARGENTINA 

  • Wish to continue negotiations to develop a robust framework for the exploitation of the mineral resources in the Area, respecting the protection of the marine environment and the common heritage of mankind. 
  • Echoed concerns by other delegations relating to the use of the silence procedure in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and linked to the decision-making process of the LTC. 

THE NETHERLANDS

  • Drew attention to the LTC annual report which noted that contractors are not complying with standard clauses of their contract. 
  • It is crucial that contractors during the exploration phase abide by their contractual obligations.  
  • Propose that the Council actually name those contractors that have repeatedly ignored the calls from the Council and the LTC to comply with their contractual obligations. 

REPUBLIC OF KOREA 

  • Frustrated to hear of repeated violationd of obligations by contractors. 
  • Want those contractors who have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

BELGIUM 

  • Regarding the NORI EIS, Belgium questioned whether information was missing from the approved EIS and Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP), and raised questions regarding the approval process by the Legal and Technical Commission. 
  • Belgium called for greater transparency and more open information sharing with the Council and the wider public. 
  • Supports The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

ITALY 

  • Supported The Netherlands’ proposal for the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared as a necessary step towards greater transparency. 
  • Italy believes the revised NORI EIS and EMMP should have been released publicly and see merit in releasing the revised EIS for full stakeholder consultation. 
  • Italy requested additional information on the Secretariat’s inspection of NORI’s exploration test, as well as the inspection process.  

PORTUGAL 

  • Stressed the need to ensure transparency in the processes related to the environmental management of the common heritage of humankind. 
  • Called for the NORI EMMP to be disclosed to all stakeholders as soon as possible. 
  • Fully supported The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

CANADA

  • Called for a more in-depth discussion on effective control.

10 Nov 2022

IN RESPONSE TO FRANCE’S STATEMENT ON A BAN ON DEEP-SEA MINING

Bonjour à toutes et à toutes, Monsieur le Président, chers délégués,

Je m’appelle Anne-Sophie Roux, je fais partie d’un réseau international de jeunes engagés pour l’océan, la Sustainable Ocean Alliance, dont je suis la représentante en France. 

Ici, avec la Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, je fais partie des quelques jeunes envoyés siéger dans ces négociations, qui sont absolument cruciales pour notre génération. Car cette génération, tout comme les suivantes, fait déjà face aux conséquences dramatiques de la crise environnementale. Et l’exploitation minière des fonds marins ne ferait que l’empirer. 

Or, face à l’accélération de la crise climatique, l’océan est notre plus grand allié. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de le compromettre.Face à la 6e extinction de masse, nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de rayer de la carte des espèces entières que les scientifiques commencent tout juste à découvrir et à comprendre.

Good morning to all, Mr. President, dear delegates,

My name is Anne-Sophie Roux, I am part of an international network of young people committed to the ocean, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, of which I am the representative in France. 

Here, with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, I am one of the few young people sent to sit in on these negotiations, which are absolutely crucial for our generation. 

Because this generation, like the next, is already facing the dramatic consequences of the environmental crisis. And seabed mining would only make it worse. 

As the climate crisis accelerates, the ocean is our greatest ally. We cannot afford to compromise it.

In the face of the sixth mass extinction, we cannot afford to wipe out entire species that scientists are just beginning to discover and understand.

I would like to thank France for joining the growing movement of States that raise the alarm on the necessity to oppose the adoption of the mining code and the approval of mining contracts. I would like to congratulate France for setting this level of ambition to stop deep seabed mining. France and the States in this room have made international commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Today, I can say that I am proud that my country is upholding these commitments. 

We are here, at this stage, thanks to a mobilization that started with Palau, Fiji, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia – the countries of the Global Alliance of Countries calling for a Moratorium on deep seabed mining in the Pacific and around the world. We are here thanks to  Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Panama, and Ecuador, who have made bold political decisions that put nature where it should be: front and center. 

We are here thanks to the Global Alliance of Parliamentarians that was announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. We are here thanks to the massive civil society and youth mobilization, online and on the field, in France and all over the world. 

So the vision is here. And we should not forget that there is an agenda for 2023 and we need to secure that there is no mining code adopted and no exploitation starting. 

In response to those who have raised UNCLOS: As France said, our work should meet the challenges of today, including biodiversity. Let us not find obstacles and build fences, but instead find pathways and bridges to protect the ocean. Already BBNJ is close to being finalised. We need that kind of creativity and openness to moving forwards. 

The deep ocean is needed to mitigate the climate crisis. The deep ocean is needed to not make the collapse of biodiversity worse. The deep ocean is needed to sustain living conditions on Earth. The deep ocean is the common heritage of human and non-human kind. This is our duty to protect it.

Thank you Mr. President for the floor.

ON THE NAURU OCEAN RESOURCES INC (NORI) ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

Thank you Mr President

We take the floor on behalf of DSCC and Oceans North regarding the recently approved NORI EIS, announced by The Metals Company in September. 

We align ourselves with the observations from the IUCN and the States that have raised concerns, and in particular stress our objections to the fact that the revised EIS was examined and approved behind closed doors, by a small sub-group of the LTC under silence procedure, with no notification to stakeholders, the public, or Council. We are concerned that the LTC did not meet its obligations, in that the Guidelines clearly state in paragraph 41f, that in the event the contractor resubmits the EIS, the revision must be subject to stakeholder consultation. And yet, as many others have noted, it was not. Furthermore, at no stage did Council have any opportunity to review the revised document, which, as observed by a number of delegates, still has not been made public  – and which allows NORI to mine 3600 tonnes of nodules. 

Test mining has therefore begun, without a single state saying “yes” to it. The approval was granted by a mere handful of human beings – hardly representative of humankind as a whole. As we sit here, a dangerous extractive experiment is underway.

Many of us were present for last week’s presentation of the test mining being undertaken in the Pacific Ocean as we speak. The presentation failed to show a single image of the mining area after the removal of nodules, or the marine life that has been harmed or indeed killed over the last few weeks. There was no acknowledgement of the species impacted on the seafloor or throughout the water column. It was also clear that no sampling was undertaken in the water column where the return discharge was taking place prior to deciding the depth of the plume release. The DSCC finds this revelation highly concerning as scientists have repeatedly warned us of the impact of sediment plumes, whether or not the plume is toxic. Additionally, this means a plume of unknown composition was being released into the ecosystem.  

Fundamentally, this underlines two conclusions:

  1. The ISA is not fit for purpose in regulating deep-sea mining and associated activities. If this EIA for a component test could escape scrutiny so easily under the Recommendations, there is no hope for an EIA under the two year loophole where there are no applicable recommendations or procedures in place.
  2. No amount of manoeuvring can avoid the fact repeatedly emphasized by DOSI and many other scientists that there is no baseline available and will not be for many years, and without that baseline, effects cannot be assessed. As was stressed eloquently by the youth at our side event on Monday, we are seeing shifting baselines in ecosystems we have years of data for, but we simply do not have that data for the deep sea. We cannot continue to tacitly accept and exacerbate the loss of biodiversity. 

Thank you.

DR 18

Paragraph 4 currently provides that an exploitation contract shall provide for security of tenure and shall not be revised, suspended or terminated except in the stated restrictive situations.

We note in this content that Article 19 of Annex III provides in paragraph 2 that “Any contract entered into in accordance with article 153, paragraph 3, may be revised only with the consent of the parties.” (being the ISA Secretary General and the contractor)

This more than any other provision underlines why a moratorium on deep-sea mining is necessary. A contract granted may be in force for 60 years or more, including multiple 10 year renewals. This gives rise to the crucial question of intergenerational equity: multiple future generations would be saddled with these damaging contracts if deep-sea mining were to go ahead.  With climate change, biodiversity crises and unanticipated situations, anything can happen. A contractor should not be able to insist on pressing ahead with damaging mining based on a contract granted decades ago, regardless of intervening situations.

9 Nov 2022

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

DR 4

On this agenda item, we have two brief observations. Firstly, we join the many delegations on the need to ensure that all references are aligned with Article 145 and refer to ‘harmful effects’.

Secondly, there is no reference to the loss or degradation of biodiversity and “damage to flora and fauna” is not broad enough to capture this concept as a whole.

DR 5

While the new (c) and (d) would require that there is sufficient information that the applicant has the necessary financial, technical and operational capability to carry out the proposed Plan of Work, there is a fundamental problem. As we discussed last week, contracts can be assigned under Regulation 23, so that a new unassessed company could carry out any mining. This possibility must be considered in this context.

9 Nov 2022

SINGAPORE

  • Singapore proposed the Contractor should take all measures to ensure activities in the Area do not cause “serious harm” to the marine environment, as opposed to “harmful effects”. 
  • This was opposed by Italy, Costa Rica, Chile, Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago. 
  • Costa Rica, Chile, Federated States of Micronesia proposed the use of the term “threat of harmful effects”.

COSTA RICA

  • On the proposal by Germany regarding environmental thresholds and the role of the Legal and Technical Commission, Costa Rica raised concerns about the role of contractors in the creation of environmental thresholds and the appointment of experts. The appointment of experts should occur in full transparency, independent of contractors. 
  • This was echoed by Chile, Brazil, Panama and New Zealand.

CHILE

  • Agreed with Costa Rica regarding transparency around the appointment of experts and development of environmental thresholds. The delegation considers that information that needs to be made public, wholly public, because we do not believe that there is here any information that needs to be confidential, as has occurred with the LTC.  

NEW ZEALAND 

  • Regarding the role of contractors, New Zealand agreed that contractors should have no role in decision making.
8 Nov 2022

China

  • Advocated to ensure a reasonable balance between exploitation of resources in the Area and the protection of the marine environment.
  • This was opposed by Costa Rica, Chile, New Zealand, the UK, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands and the paragraph was not amended.

Spain

  • Justified the inclusion of the principle of intergenerational equity. The idea is to introduce the concept of equity between the current and future generations which is implicit in the concept of humanity.  

Federated States of Micronesia

  • Regarding who the Authority shall consult with to develop measures to implement the regulations, the Federated States of Micronesia proposed the inclusion of “relevant adjacent coastal States” or “coastal States contiguous, or in proximity” where there is reference to coastal States, to account for the fact that these States may be affected by mining activities.

United States

  • With regards to who the Authority shall consult with to develop measures to implement the regulations, limiting the focus to the Contract Area may be too limited. Prefer to retain some reference to the Exploitation Area about States potentially affected by activities in the Contract Area.

Australia

  • The delegation reiterated their position that “No exploitation should be finally approved until the regulatory framework is in place.”