On 27 June 2022, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, announced that ISA was joining the call to action for investment in ocean science launched by the Ocean Decade Alliance.
In his statement delivered at the first in-person meeting of the Alliance held at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Mr. Lodge noted that the rapid development of technology and know-how used for marine scientific research in the last few years, particularly in the field of deep-sea research, has been a source of increasing global knowledge. Secretary-General Loge, however, underscored that developing States currently had very limited capacity to carry out this research by themselves. Reflecting on the pace at which technology evolves and the cost of such technology, Mr. Lodge highlighted the risk of seeing the technological divide between developed and developing countries widen. “[I]f it is hard for developing countries to take part in marine scientific research in the deep sea now, we can only assume that it will be even more difficult in the future,” he said.
“That is one reason why ISA has been given a unique responsibility for marine scientific research in the seabed beyond national jurisdiction. It forms a core part of our mandate, given to us by UNCLOSand a part of that mandate is to build the capacities of developing States and technologically less advanced States in scientific research and facilitate transfer of technology,” he added.
The strong commitment of ISA and its 168 Members to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development was formalized with the adoption of a multi-year action plan in support of the Decade by the ISA Assembly in December 2020.
“The six strategic research priorities identified in the Plan were selected because they are fundamental to achieving our end goal of sustainable management of the global commons for the benefit of all, based on best available science and a precautionary approach,” the ISA Secretary-General added.
Mr. Lodge then drew attention to several initiatives that have been recently implemented as indicators of the progress achieved so far. He mentioned in particular the launch of the AREA2030 initiative on World Oceans Day on 8 June 2022. AREA2030 is implemented in collaboration with the International Hydrographic Organization and aims to encourage exploration contractors to voluntarily provide high-resolution bathymetric data from exploration in the international seabed area (the Area) so that they can be made widely available. “These are the best, and in many cases, the only data available on remote areas of the seabed and will make a very important contribution to the goal of mapping the seafloor by 2030,” he commented.
Mr. Lodge also announced the imminent launch of the Sustainable Seabed Knowledge Initiative – SSKI – on 29 June at the UN Ocean Conference. “SSKI aims to develop scientifically robust methodologies to understand the environmental effects of activities in the Area. I am delighted that this initiative has already received a significant level of funding from the European Commission,” he said.
Finally, Mr. Lodge announced that on 30 June, a report will be released outlining the key findings of a gender-mapping analysis of critical barriers faced by women scientists from least developing countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS) in disciplines related to deep-sea research. “This is one of the first outputs of our flagship Women in Deep-Sea Research (WIDSR) project, implemented in partnership with UN-OHRLLS and more than 20 partners including national governments, research institutions, international and regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations.”
“I hope you will come to those side events but even more I hope that others, from all sectors, will join these and other initiatives under the ISA Action Plan, focus their investments in these priority areas, and help us create tangible outcomes for sustainable development,” Mr. Lodge concluded.
The written version of the Secretary-General’s Statement is accessible here: Secretary-General Statement – High-Level Meeting of the Ocean Decade Alliance – 27 June 2022.
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 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
 UN-OHRLLS: UN Office of the High-Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.