On 5 March 2023, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) hosted a high-level event during the second part of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), which is taking place in Doha from 5 to 9 March.

ISA is mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to regulate and control activities in the international seabed area (the Area) for the benefit of humankind and ensure equitable sharing of any proceeds. In addition, ISA has an obligation to take measures to promote and encourage the transfer of technology and scientific knowledge relating to activities in the Area. These measures should be directed at developing States so that all States Parties benefit and have fully integrated participation in the implementation of the regime for the Area.

In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General of ISA, H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, underscored that the need for improved capacities and access to marine scientific research programmes in the Area for LDCs, landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) has been recognized as a priority by ISA Member States at the highest strategic level. “It is clearly anchored in the Strategic Action Plan and the High-Level Action adopted in 2018 and 2019, the Action Plan for Marine Scientific Research in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development adopted in 2020 and more recently, the Capacity Development Strategy adopted in 2022,” he said.

The high-level event was also the opportunity to discuss some of the direct impacts of several initiatives put in place by ISA to support the most vulnerable countries within the context of the Doha Programme of Action, including LDCs. These include the on the provisions and benefits of UNCLOS for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS through a series of publications released recently and the partnership established with the United Nations Technology Bank for LDCs were also highlighted as critical contributions.

In her keynote address, the Honorable Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Tonga, emphasized that although vulnerable, LDCs are owners of vast stretches of deep seabed and should be in a position to create a sustainable future by leveraging the power of science, technology and innovation to build prosperous and resilient economies accordingly. “However, LDCs and notably SIDS, too often lack the basic resources, capacities and access to technology to manage, safeguard and exploit these resources. The Doha Programme of Action creates global partnerships that acknowledge this and place LDCs at the forefront of such endeavors, which will, in turn, accelerate their paths from progress to sustainable prosperity,” she said.

Taking part in the panel discussion on regional and international cooperation and reflecting on how such cooperation can enhance marine scientific research capacity for LDCs to leverage their blue economy, H.E. Ms. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta to ISA and the United Nations, highlighted the importance of empowering women in this process. “Malta is a proud partner of the Women in Deep-Sea Research project. As one of the founding members of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Malta remains committed to empowering women and girls, especially in careers relating to ocean science,” she emphasized.

The Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, H.E. Salman Al Farisi, observed that furthering partnership and international cooperation was of critical importance to implement the Doha Programme of Action and underscored that “The Indian Ocean Rim Association remains committed to strengthening cooperation with ISA to promote marine scientific research to leverage the capacity of LDCs.”

When addressing how the transfer of technology can create enabling conditions for LDCs to participate effectively in existing and emerging ocean sectors of the blue economy, the Acting Managing Director of the United Nations Technology Bank for LDCs, Dr. Taffere Tesfachew, highlighted that “The blue economy contains huge potential in resources and services that the LDCs are yet to tap and utilize, so facilitating the participation of LDCs in marine scientific research and their access to the latest technological innovation in this field is essential.”

ISA and United Nations Technology Bank for LDCs have committed to achieving this through the recent partnership signed between the two organizations.

Considering the significant role that strategic partnerships can play in contributing to building and developing the capacities necessary for LDCs to harness the benefits of the blue economy, Ms. Jorun Sigrid Nossum, Assistant Director, Section of Oceans at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, noted there is a need that all stakeholders work together to address the opportunities and the challenges imposed to manage them sustainably and equitably. “International cooperation is a key to collectively deliver practical solutions to secure a better future for LDCs in developing sustainable blue economies,” she said.

H.E. Mr. Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, expanded on the topic further, stating, “The blue economy offers a wide range of economic development, and our countries will need carefully nurtured partnerships and support to be able to achieve the maximum returns. Not just any partnership – but partnerships with objectives aligned to the ambitions of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.”

In his closing remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia, H.E. Mr. Abshir Omar Jama, commended the participants for their interventions and the quality of the discussions. “It is expected that moving forward, the interventions, deliberations and recommendations from this panel discussions within the framework of the Doha Programme of Action, specifically i) improved regional and international cooperation, ii) transfer of technology and iii) strategic partnerships, can enhance and develop marine scientific research capacity and create enabling conditions for effective participation of LDCs in benefiting fully from emerging ocean sectors of the blue economy,” he concluded.

Least developed countries and the law of the sea: an ocean of opportunity

Landlocked developing countries and the law of the sea: an ocean of opportunity

Small island developing States and the law of the sea: an ocean of opportunity

This series of booklets gives an overview of the development of a global regime for the ocean and its resources, including an overview of UNCLOS, the rights and benefits of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS under UNCLOS, equitable sharing of financial and other economic benefits from activities in the international seabed area (the Area), including the selected provisions of UNCLOS specifically relevant to LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Stefanie Neno, Communications Specialist, ISA, sneno@isa.org.jm