ISA side event at UNOC2022 | Advancing women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research to support inclusive sustainable ocean governance

30 Jun 2022

08:00 AM – 09:30 AM
Hotel Olissipo Oriente, Room Pequim B
Event ID: OBZB142
ISA and UNOC logos
WIDSR side event partners



Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a key responsibility of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is to promote and encourage the conduct of marine scientific research as well as build the capacity of developing States as a means to enable their effective participation in the activities carried out in the international seabed area. In implementing its mandate, ISA is also enacting a vision of a world in which women scientists from developing States, and particularly those from the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), play a central role in deep-sea research and related disciplines with impacts reaching far beyond the sphere of ocean science.

To enable this vision, ISA made a Voluntary Commitment at the UN Ocean Conference in June 2017 to promote empowerment and leadership of women in marine scientific research and particularly in deep-sea research, with a focus on designing and implementing tailored activities and programmes aimed at addressing the specific challenges faced by women scientists from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (#OceanAction15467). Since then, dedicated capacity-building and development initiatives have been designed, including the Women in Deep Sea Research (WIDSR) project jointly implemented by ISA and UN-OHRLLS with the participation of more than 20 entities representing member States, international and regional organizations, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

The WIDSR project builds on four key areas of action, namely: policy development, capacity development, sustainability and partnerships, and outreach. Activities in the project will range from improving data availability for informed policy development to establishing communities of practice, mentorship and leadership programmes. At the core of this project is the need to build the capacity of women to contribute to their own empowerment and enable their access to leadership positions whilst addressing gender inequality across the whole spectrum of deep-sea related research disciplines and related careers.

This side event will provide a platform to hear from political leaders and experts in the field of women empowerment and leadership for ocean affairs and offer the opportunity to discuss progress and initiatives under development which already contribute to this objective.


This side event will provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate concrete actions towards women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research through collaborative efforts and transformative partnerships. More specifically, it will present various capacity-building initiatives aimed at enhancing the participation and leadership of women from developing States in marine scientific research. A key element of the event will be the launch of the report “Empowering Women from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS in Deep-Sea Research” which builds on a survey conducted in 23 LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to collect information at national, institutional and individual levels. The report maps the participation and leadership of women in deep-sea research and related disciplines and identifies the challenges and barriers faced by them to support informed policy development. This event will therefore create the enabling conditions for participating experts and the audience to discuss the importance of mainstreaming gender equality in highly technical and emerging fields of ocean science and ways to improve effective participation of women from developing States, in particular LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS in the global community of ocean science. Emphasis will be placed on identifying future actions and the best way to foster international cooperation and partnerships for innovative solutions with a view to enhance the participation and leadership of women from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS in deep-sea science and related field of marine scientific research.

It is anticipated that the side event will effectively assist in underlining the existing interlinkages between SDG 14 and other goals such as SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). The side event is also aligned with Interactive Dialogue 6 (Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity and transfer of marine technology), and 8 (Leveraging interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 and other Goals towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda).


8:00 – 8:20  Opening remarks 

  • H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority
  • Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN Legal Counsel
  • H.E. Mr. Dwight C.R Gardiner, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to ISA

Keynote address: 

  • Hon. Minister Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Tonga
8:20 – 8:35  Panel 1: Advancing women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research in support of inclusive and sustainable ocean economy  

  • H.E. Ms. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta to ISA and the UN
  • H.E. Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission
  • Ms. Tishka Francis, Senior Sustainable Development Officer UN-OHRLLS
8:35-8:40 Video: WIDSR Project  
8:40 – 8:55  Panel 2: Leveraging effective participation of women scientists from developing States in particular LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS through targeted and innovative capacity-development activities  

  • Dr. Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, Senior Policy Officer & Special Assistant to the Secretary-General, ISA
  • Dr. Wan-Hyun CHOI, President, MABIK (Korea)
  • Dr. Katy Soapi, Coordinator, Pacific Community Center for Ocean Science, Secretariat of the Pacific Community
8:55 – 9:15  Panel 3: Fostering partnerships and cooperation for innovative and transformative actions  

  • Mr. Francois Houillier, President, Ifremer (France)
  • Ms. Claire Jolly, Head of Unit, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovations, OECD
  • Dr. Suzan Mohamed El-Gharabawy,  Head of marine geophysics department, National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (NIOF-Egypt)
  • Dr. Zoe Jacobs, Biogeochemical Modeller, NOC
9:15 – 9:25  Interactive discussion  
9:25 – 9:30  Closing Remarks 

H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority