ISA and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) officially announced at the UN Ocean Conference held in New York in June 2017 the launch of their joint Voluntary Commitment to strengthen the capacity of Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) to sustainably access and benefit from their blue economy (#OceanAction16538).
In January 2019, this commitment was formalized through the development of a dedicated project: the Abyssal Initiative for Blue Growth, implemented in partnership by both organizations with a view to support P-SIDS to strengthen their capacity to develop and implement appropriate enabling legal, institutional and policy framework for the sound and sustainable management of marine mineral resources in the Area. Since then, the Abyssal Initiative received the support of the Government of Norway through the participation of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
The Abyssal Initiative specifically aims at enabling the four P-SIDS sponsoring States namely, the Cook Islands, Nauru, Kiribati and Tonga, to benefit from the blue economy through the sustainable development of deep-seabed resources. This project has two main objectives:
- Ensuring that the targeted countries are in a position to comply with their national and international obligations as seabed activities progress;
- Ensuring that the necessary governance structures and mechanisms required are in place in order to achieve these objectives in an effective manner.
In February 2019, the first Pacific Regional Training and Capacity-Building workshop was held in Nuku’alofa in the Kingdom of Tonga. Organized by ISA and UN DESA with the support of the Kingdom of Tonga, this workshop enabled participants to deliberate and agree on how the participation of P-SIDS could be increased in activities undertaken in the Area. Further, the workshop created the enabling conditions to clearly identify the main capacities that are required for P-SIDS sponsoring States (Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga) to take full benefit of their participation in activities in the Area with a view to achieving their blue economy objectives.
Amongst the priority capacity needs identified by P-SIDS sponsoring States were a series of elements pertaining to environmental management and monitoring of deep-seabed related activities.
- Hon. Mark Brown, Prime Minister, Cook Islands
- H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority
- Mr. Liu Zhenmin, USG, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- Mr. Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
- Mr. Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum
- Mr. Stuart Minchin, Director General, Pacific Community