Capacity-Development, training and technical assistance

Strategic framework
The duty of ISA to design and implement mechanisms to build capacity for developing States, in accordance with its mandate under UNCLOS, is recognized in the Strategic Plan of the Authority for the period 2019–2023. Such mechanisms are designed and implemented not only for promoting and encouraging the transfer of technology to developing States (UNCLOS, art.144, 273, 274) but also for ensuring the expansion of opportunities for participation in activities in the Area (UNCLOS, art.148). Strategic Direction 5 (Build capacity for developing States) and Strategic Direction 6 (Ensure fully integrated participation by developing States) of the Strategic Plan are aimed at accomplishing this objective.

As indicated in the High-Level Action Plan of ISA for the period 2019– 2023 relating to the implementation of the Strategic Plan, one of the specific actions undertaken by the secretariat in 2020 was to assist developing States, in particular geographically disadvantaged States, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States in identifying their needs (high-level action 5.1.1).

This was achieved through an incremental process consisting in a report commissioned by the ISA Secretariat in 2019 to review all capacity-building programmes and initiatives implemented by ISA between 1994 and 2019, the organization of an international workshop on “Capacity development, needs and resources assessment” organized in February 2020 in Kingston (Jamaica) and a survey circulated to all ISA members between April and June 2020 in which they were invited to identify their priority capacity development needs relating to the role and mandate given to ISA under UNCLOS (Review of Capacity-Building & Workshop Report).

Building on the results of this process, the ISA Assembly formally adopted a decision in December 2020 relating to the implementation of a programmatic approach to capacity development for ISA (ISBA/26/A/18).

This decision has been further complemented with the adoption of the Action Plan of the International Seabed Authority in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science by the ISA Assembly in December 2020. Aligned with the Implementation Plan of the UN Decade of Ocean Science, the ISA’s MSR Action Plan is structured around six strategic research priorities. Strategic Research Priority 6 will specifically be developed with the aim of strengthening further the current efforts and activities of ISA to develop the capacities of its members in marine scientific research.

As of 2022, the draft Capacity Development Strategy complements and completes the Authority’s strategic framework for capacity development. It contains core elements based on the summary report of the Secretary-General endorsed by the Assembly (ISBA/26/C/18) on the outcomes of the workshop on capacity development, resources and needs assessment and translates the key recommendations outlined in the capacity development review process.

Furthermore, the draft Capacity Development Strategy provides a sound basis for ISA’s strong commitment to ensure that all capacity development programmes and initiatives implemented are meaningful, tangible, efficient, effective and targeted at the needs of developing States, as identified by them. Next to setting the concrete strategic foundation for all of ISA’s capacity development initiatives, the draft Strategy also provides for measurable outcomes for the Authority’s programmatic approach to capacity development.

Consequently, the overarching objective of the draft Capacity Development Strategy is to enhance the ability of the Authority to build and develop the capacity of developing States, members of the Authority (Strategic Plan, Strategic Direction 5) with a view to ensure the full integrated participation of these States in the work of the Authority and the activities carried out in the Area (Strategic Plan, Strategic Direction 6. This is reflected in the following five key result areas:

  1. Ensuring that capacity development programmes and activities are meaningful, tangible, efficient, effective and targeted at the needs of developing States as identified by them
  2. Establishing and furthering strategic partnerships in support of capacity development.
  3. Strengthening institutional capacities through technology transfer and technical assistance
  4. Advancing women’s empowerment and leadership in deep-sea related disciplines through targeted capacity development activities
  5. Improving deep-sea literacy through better awareness and understanding of the legal regime of the Area and the role and mandate of the Authority

The draft Capacity Development Strategy was circulated for public consultation during the period 25 April to 27 May 2022. Taking into account the suggestions and comments made by member States, observers, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders during the consultation process, the revised draft Capacity Development Strategy has been submitted for adoption by the Assembly during its 27th Session taking place in Kingston from 1–5 August 2022.

For the most part, capacity-building and training programmes implemented by ISA have been an integral feature of the mandate of the ISA, as further defined under the 1994 Agreement as well as the rules, regulations and procedures adopted by ISA. Since 2000, different programmes and initiatives have been developed and implemented by ISA to strengthen the capacities of developing States and technologically less developed States (UNCLOS, art.143(3)(b); art.144, 273 and 274). These are the Contractor Training Programme (CTP), the Endowment Fund for Marine Scientific Research (EFMSR) in the Area and the Internship Programme.
As of today, more than 400 individuals have benefited from these innovative and state-of-the-art schemes. More information can be accessed through our dashboard.

In addition to these three programmes, a series of additional activities have been undertaken since 2017 to reinforce the action of ISA in building the capacities of its Members. Most of these activities have so far been carried out in the context of the implementation of the Voluntary Commitments registered by ISA at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference held in New York. Of particular relevance are the Abyssal Initiative for Blue Growth (Abyssal) project and  the Africa Deep Seabed Resources (ADSR) project.

Recently, ISA engaged in two new initiatives that also aim at building the capacity of its members. One related to the establishment of national (such as the ISA-China JTRC Training center) and regional training centers and another one related to the launching of the ISA Junior Professional Officer programme.