DSCC Interventions – 8/11/23

Date: 9 November 2023

On Presidents text Annex IX

Good morning Mr. President, dear delegates,

This intervention is delivered on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Oceans North, Greenpeace, WWF, the Environmental Justice Foundation, the Ocean Foundation and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Firstly, we share the concerns expressed by Germany on paragraph 4.1

Secondly, referring to Part D of Annex IX, Entry into force and contract terms. The proposed term of contracts, as is referenced in Regulation 20, is completely unacceptable.

This amounts to saddling multiple future generations with decades of damage from deep sea mining, irreversible over human timescales.

30 years plus two 15 year renewals or three 10 year renewals could result in 60 year contracts. This is completely unconscionable in this era of our reckoning with environmental degradation and climate change. 

The scale of industrial deep-sea mining, both geographical and temporal, would pave the way for multi-decadal damage in an unknown future. 

It would lock future generations into the schema of extraction, pollution, ecosystem degradation and species extinction, at a time when we know our collective behaviours must change if we wish to preserve the planet that is home to all of us. 

When UNCLOS was concluded 40 years ago, our species was operating in a very different social, economic, and environmental context. 

Today, we have triggered environmental changes worldwide that are accelerating rapidly, and both politics, markets and ultimately our societies will have to respond to those shifts. 

We must assume that the world will look significantly different in 30 to 60 years. We are not in a position to make multi-decadal commitments to an industry which, under this regulation, could stretch far into a future we are unable even to imagine and would saddle future generations with unacceptable environmental burdens. 

This is not merely a legal discussion, but a human one that has implications for ourselves, our families, and our communities. This is a grave responsibility. 

Such a decision requires time, which adopting a moratorium on deep-sea-mining allows for. It is the only truly precautionary approach. 

This intervention is on behalf of Greenpeace, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, WWF, the Environmental Justice Foundation, AIDA and DSCC

Firstly, we object to having been excluded from the informal consultations on the LTC decision. This is inconsistent with the transparency process described in the draft decision itself.
Secondly, we strongly urge Council to instruct the LTC that the use of the silence procedure for substantive decisions is unacceptable. The LTC can, when it needs to, meet virtually, using zoom or similar video conferencing.If necessary changes need to be made in the rules of procedure that should be addressed.

Use of the silence procedure should be limited to procedural matters which cannot otherwise be decided, such as urgent procedural decisions which need to be taken and a meeting cannot be organized on time.

Quite simply, LTC members may not even see the email, or be able to reply in time; it is impossible to assess a quorum via email, LTC members may not be comfortable being the first to interrupt the silence, and it is important to have a clear understanding of how and why decisions are made. If objections are made to a decision, who will stand up and take responsibility? And of course this is all taking place behind closed doors.

Mr President, judging by this draft decision, this body is clearly not fit to regulate. It is not befitting the Council. The current decision is an abject abdication of responsibility by the Council instead of transparency and accountability and clarity in decision-making.

If ever there was a reason to adopt a moratorium on deep-sea mining, we are looking at it.

Dear delegates, we are taking the floor on behalf of the Environmental Justice Foundation, WWF, Sustainable Oceans Alliance, The Oceans Foundation, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace.

After 8 days of Council meeting discussing mining regulations, we would like to emphasise that the attempt to rush the negotiation and adoption of the mining code that we are witnessing over the last couple of years is a fundamentally wrong approach to the work of this Authority.

There are too many unknowns about deep sea ecosystems, and deep sea biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are far too critical to just rush this process.

The sheer pace of meetings is already creating inequities among States, which struggle to attend too many sessions every year and process and respond to a phenomenal amount of information and documentation. The same can be said of observers. This process needs to be much more inclusive and respect the interest and capacity of states ,including developing states, observers and other stakeholders and members of the public with an interest in these negotiations involving the common heritage of humankind.

Rushing these negotiations must also not be done at the expense of transparency. Transparency requires that observers not be excluded from further discussions – informal informals must not mean exclusion of transparency. This is about the common heritage of humankind.

In our view, the international community of States represented in this room is being pushed by the interests of a few and the use of a provision, the two-year rule, that is forcing the hand of the members of the Authority under the threat of unregulated mining.

The adoption of a mining code will not solve the two-year rule, nor can it provide effective protection of the marine environment. Mining contracts would be in place for many decades.

We urge states instead to step back, apply the precautionary principle and rethink this process that would pave the way for the start of a new extractive industry in one of the most intact environments on the planet, and focus instead on putting in place a moratorium or precautionary pause on deep sea mining. A moratorium is not an “alternative narrative”, as described by the Secretariat; it is the only responsible way for states to fulfil their obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention to effectively protect the marine environment and numerous international commitments and agreements to protect marine biodiversity.

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