On 9 December, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael Lodge, reported on the progress made by the organization since December 2021 at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Secretary-General welcomed the support of the General Assembly to the work undertaken by ISA, especially the resumption of in-person meetings under the 27th session of the ISA Council and Assembly and progress on the negotiations on the draft regulations for exploitation of mineral resources in the Area.
“I wish to thank the General Assembly for the many positive references to the work of the Authority in the draft resolution before the Assembly. The overwhelming support of Member States for the work of the Authority is very much appreciated,” Mr. Lodge said.
Elaborating on the work of the Council under the 27th session, Mr. Lodge noted the mention made in Part VI of the draft resolution of the UNGA in reference to the progress made in advancing its discussions on the development of the draft regulations for exploitation of mineral resources in the Area. “I wish to congratulate the Council and all members of the Authority on the excellent progress made during 2022 and on the adoption of a roadmap for the continuation of this work into 2023,” Mr. Lodge stressed.
“Completion of the regulatory regime is a fundamental part of the evolutionary approach to the establishment and work of the Authority encapsulated in the 1994 Agreement. It is work that the Authority must do in order to fulfil its mandate to protect the marine environment as well as to protect the rights of all States Parties to conduct activities in the Area in accordance with the rules, regulations, and procedures of the Authority,” he added.
The ISA Secretary-General also emphasized the efforts deployed by ISA over the past five years to put in place a strong strategic framework to deliver more effectively the mandate assigned to it by UNCLOS. He mentioned the adoption and implementation of the ISA Strategic Plan and High-Level Action Plan adopted by the ISA Assembly in 2018 and 2019 respectively and the Action Plan in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development adopted in 2020. Mr. Lodge further noted that the framework had recently been completed with the adoption by the ISA Assembly of its first-ever Capacity Development Strategy and the establishment of the ISA Partnership Fund to support the work of the organization in the field of marine scientific research and capacity development.
“These decisions will enable the Authority to redouble its efforts to provide tangible and meaningful capacity building and capacity development opportunities to address the needs identified by developing States Members of the Authority. I look forward to working with all Members to develop the new Partnership Fund as a platform for increased international collaboration in support of the Authority’s mandate,” he said.
Mr. Lodge also expressed satisfaction at the upcoming signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union following approval by the Council. As a testimonial of the strong interest of African States to participate in the regime for the Area, Mr. Lodge highlighted the very successful workshop organized in Abuja, Nigeria, in October 2022 under the Africa Deep Sea Resources Project with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), which attracted more than 300 participants from the region.
Noting the importance of continuing to increase scientific knowledge of the deep sea to improve the assessment of potential impacts and risks associated with deep-seabed exploration and future exploitation activities, the ISA Secretary-General highlighted the launch in June 2022 at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon of the Sustainable Seabed Knowledge Initiative (SSKI) as a major step in the implementation of the ISA Action Plan in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science.
Recalling that 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of UNCLOS, Mr. Lodge drew the attention of the General Assembly to the first-ever Women in the Law of the Sea Conference organized by ISA in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Singapore to the UN and the Permanent Mission of Malta to ISA and to the UN in September 2022 in New York. The conference celebrated the contribution of women to the development of the law of the sea, their participation in the institutions created by UNCLOS and related regional and sub-regional organizations and discussed the pathways for enhancing the potential for women to contribute to the law of the sea in the future.
In closing, Mr. Lodge reiterated his gratitude to the host country of ISA, Jamaica. “The Authority remains the only global organization to have its headquarters in a small island developing State. I am sure I speak on behalf of all members of the Authority when I say that we sincerely appreciate everything that Jamaica has done for us over the years and everything that the spirit of Jamaica contributes to the identity of the Authority,” he said.
“As we move into 2023 with an accelerated programme of meetings for the Council and a determination to complete the mining code, I look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to Jamaica,” he concluded.
Full statement by the Secretary-General is available here.
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