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Today the International Seabed Authority (ISA) issued a video statement by the Secretary-General, Mr Michael W. Lodge, providing a progress report on the work of ISA over the last months.
Noting that although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced ISA to adjust to new working conditions and constraints, the ISA Secretary-General stressed the remarkable progress made by the Organization in the execution of its work. In so doing, the Secretary-General commended the staff of the Secretariat for their resilience and ongoing dedication and commitment.
The Secretary-General also expressed his sincere appreciation to all the members of the Legal and Technical Commission who gave substantially of their time, often in very difficult circumstances, to complete the agenda of the Commission. Reference was made to the fact that the first three sets of draft standards and guidelines for deep sea mining operations have been issued for stakeholder consultation.
On the development of the Mining Code, the ISA Secretary-General highlighted that important background work has been undertaken pending the moment where the Council will be able to meet again physically and resume its work on this matter. This includes major work on the financial and economic model for seabed mining, as well as a study in relation to the proposed environmental compensation fund.
Mr Lodge also emphasized the ambitious programme of online workshops on the development of regional environmental management plans and related matters, including standardization for taxonomic identification as well as data collection and analysis, launched by ISA in the past months. “The reaction to these workshops has been overwhelmingly positive, with widespread participation from leading scientists worldwide as well as a broad range of member States,” noted the Secretary-General. “In presenting this ambitious programme, we have not only created a significant body of new scientific work that will help to protect the marine environment, but we have also created a new model for transparent and inclusive scientific collaboration that will be used in future to supplement traditional approaches,” added Mr Lodge.
The Secretary-General also highlighted important progress in the development of a draft Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy which will soon be released for public consultations. He also indicated that ISA has joined forces to achieve shared objectives in important international initiatives such as the current work led by the United Nations Global Compact and the launch of its Ocean Stewardship 2030 Report and; the adoption of the roadmap for accelerated implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, led by the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
Significant development has also been made in the perspective of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, starting in 2021. A draft Action Plan has been developed and will be presented for adoption by the ISA Assembly before the end of 2020. The ISA Secretary-General further underscored that he was “particularly pleased that Argentina has announced its willingness to act as a champion for the Authority’s own Action Plan for Marine Scientific Research in support of the UN Decade.”
In its progress report, Mr. Michael W. Lodge urged for the election of the incoming members of the Council so that they can fulfil their tasks for 2021. “This is a matter that has always been dealt with by consensus, as required by the Convention and the 1994 Agreement, and there should be no reason why this cannot be done in 2020,” he added.
Finally, Mr. Michael W. Lodge underlined the importance for ISA to adopt a budget, based on the recommendation of the Finance Committee which also completed its work. “Without a budget, the Authority will be unable to function and all activities will cease. I look forward to the budget progressing smoothly through the Council and the Assembly and urge all members to take a pragmatic and flexible approach in the interests of the Authority,” he said.
The video statement is accessible at: bit.ly/2JHvxaz
The transcript of the statement is accessible at: bit.ly/38eT1xT
Ms. Dana Schiopu, Communications Specialist, ISA firstname.lastname@example.org