Switzerland – key statements

Date: 4 November 2022

March 2024

28/3/24

  • Switzerland stressed the importance of environmental thresholds in the development of environmental impact assessments, among others. 
  • Switzerland believes we can update thresholds over time regarding potential pressures caused by deep-sea mining operations. 
  • Switzerland also supports the Commission in holding more open meetings where appropriate, in accordance with the relevant Council decision.

27/3/24

  • For Switzerland, test mining is an essential step in the development of a plan of work. The process of test mining is to demonstrate environmental assessment assumptions and predictions are validated. The results of test mining should be mandatory. 
  • The delegation noted that test mining should be subject to an EIA, just like commercial mining, to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment as Article 145 still applies. 

26/3/24

  • Switzerland supports the establishment of an environmental compensation fund. In the case of environmental damage, Switzerland supports the polluter pays principle. 
  • The delegation agrees with others that the fund should have broad coverage of damage, including economic losses.
  • Switzerland supports Costa Rica and the African Group’s comments on the environmental compensation fund – calling for it to be established and sufficiently funded before exploitation activities begin. 

July 2023

27/7/23

  • Switzerland noted the short time countries had to review the Strategic plan and requested more time to review before adoption, it added “it should be more in line with BBNJ agreement and precautionary pause”

25/7/23

  • Switzerland highlights that the deep sea hosts some of the most pristine and diverse ecosystems on, including and fragile marine ecosystems, with very large diversity of unknown organisms. “There is mounting scientific evidence that deep-sea mining would have harmful and potentially irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, and could threaten the global climate cycle.” 
  • Switzerland states that we lack the necessary environmental baseline data to understand and manage applications and cumulative impacts of deep-sea mining.
  • Switzerland reiterates their position in favor of a moratorium on deep-sea mining until there’s better scientific understanding of its impact, and until the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects of such activities can be guaranteed.
  • Switzerland called on Member States to accept the discussion on the supplementary agenda item proposed by the Republic of Chile and others. Switzerland highlighted that The Assembly is the supreme organ of the Authority and should be allowed to discuss such an important issue. This is of particular importance since the Council has so far rejected most discussions in this regard with the justification that its main priority mandate is to finalize draft regulations.

24/7/23

  • Switzerland supports the inclusion of agenda item establishing a general policy by the Assembly related to the consultation of the marine environment under the two year rule, proposed by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau, and Vanuatu. 

14/7/23

  • As stated in the joint statement, together with Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Monaco, Panama, Portugal, New Zealand and Vanuatu, Switzerland believe that without the adoption of rules, regulations and procedures, it is not only appropriate, but the responsibility of the Council to give the necessary guidance to its subsidiary body, the LTC, as provided for in Article 163 of UNCLOS. 
  • Switzerland joins other delegations in calling to continue discussions on the expiration of the 2-year rule next week and so a decision can be made by the Council at this session, and further support the discussion on this important issue at the Assembly. 
  • There is growing scientific evidence that deep-sea mining would have harmful and potentially irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, including the direct destruction of habitats and organisms, and it could threaten the global climate cycle. 
  • There are also major scientific gaps. The necessary environmental baseline data to understand and manage these impacts is lacking, as well as robust tools to monitor the impacts – how can we protect what we don’t know and manage what we cannot measure? 
  • In the context of today’s triple planetary crisis, we cannot afford the displacement or amplification of environmental problems. Furthermore, harmful and potentially irreversible impacts could make other economic uses of the deep sea difficult or impossible, such as fishing and access to marine genetic resources. 
  • Switzerland has taken the clear position in favour of a moratorium on the commercial exploitation of the Area. 
  • Switzerland is of the view that deep-sea mining in the area must be postponed until there is a better understanding of its impact and until the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects of such activities can be guaranteed. 
  • The ISA has a mandate to act on behalf of and for the benefit of humankind as a whole, as well as to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from the harmful effects of mining activities, where there are threats or serious or irreversible damage, the precautionary approach must be applied. Economic interests from a few, cannot outweigh a lack of effective environmental protection.

13/7/23

  • Want to ensure the potential global consequences associated with deep-sea mining activities are properly accounted for, for example on climate. Stressed the importance of assessing the impacts of deep-sea mining on human health and safety, following a recent scientific study which demonstrated the high radioactivity of deep sea minerals, which is very concerning. These aspects should also be captured in the EIA.

12/7/23

  • Called for the definition of “the marine environment” to be defined as all forms of marine life, including fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species.
  • Offsetting should not be included. 

March 2023

24/3/23

  • Switzerland favors UNCLOS Art. 145 that obliges Council to shape the rules on deep-sea mining in such a way that the marine environment is effectively protected from harmful impacts.
  • Exploitation should not occur before approval of rules, regulations and procedures and accompanying institutional arrangements.

22/3/23

  • Raised their support for binding elements and binding standards and guidelines for environmental impact assessments.
  • Called for the environmental impact assessment process to be re-structured.
  • Called for detailed account of knowledge of the biological environment its ecosystem functions and services, its fauna and flora, as well as communities composition and structure in the site and impact areas and so on in regulations

20/3/23

  • The delegation highlighted the importance of coherence and consistency with the BBNJ treaty

16/3/23

  • Warned that we are in a triple planetary crisis: climate change, biodiversity and pollution and that the ISA needs to act on behalf of mankind and ensure the protection of the marine environment from harmful activities
  • We are evaluating our position, but we are of the view that exploitation should not take place without the adequate framework to ensure the protection of the marine environment.

October/November 2022

4/11/22

  • Switzerland stated that with climate, biodiversity loss and pollution, the mandate to protect the marine environment is crucial. Most of the potentially affected ecosystems have not been mapped or studied. Switzerland supports more research to learn more about these areas in order to effectively develop regulations. Switzerland calls for the precautionary approach and regulations and institutional arrangements are required to meet obligations under article 145 of the convention.

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