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 ISA Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. Such mechanisms are designed and implemented to promote and encourage the transfer of technology to developing States (UNCLOS, Articles 144, 273, 274) and ensure the expansion of opportunities for activities in the Area (UNCLOS, Article 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 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, particularly 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 of 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 and 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 United Nations Decade of Ocean Science by the ISA Assembly in December 2020. Aligned with the Implementation Plan of the United Nations 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 to strengthen ISA’s current efforts and activities to develop its members’ capacities in marine scientific research.


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, Articles 143(3)(b), 144, 273 and 274). These are the Contractor Training Programme, the Endowment Fund for Marine Scientific Research in the Area and the Internship Programme.
As of today, more than 400 individuals 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. So far, most of these activities have been carried out in the context of implementation of the Voluntary Commitments registered by ISA at the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference held in New York. The Abyssal Initiative for Blue Growth project and the Africa Deep Seabed Resources project are particularly relevant here.

Recently, ISA engaged in two new initiatives that also aim at building the capacity of its Members. One is related to establishing national (ISA-China JTRC training center) and regional training centers. Another is related to launching the ISA Junior Professional Officer programme.