Today, 5 February 2024, the Secretariat of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has formally launched the ISA Capacity Development Alumni Network (iCAN) to bolster human resource development, monitor the impact of training provided through the entire spectrum of activities carried in the international seabed area and facilitate collaboration among ISA’s trainees.

iCAN is a new pioneering initiative that underscores ISA’s ongoing commitment to fulfilling its mandate under Article 144 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as reinforced by the 1994 Agreement and strategic directions outlined in ISA’s Strategic Plan for the period 2019–2025.
The contribution of iCAN to the work of ISA on building and developing the capacities of its Member States at individual, institutional and organizational levels is anchored in ISA’s Capacity Development Strategy adopted in 2022 (ISBA/27/A/5). ISA’s Capacity Development Strategy emphasizes the importance of an alum network to leverage the knowledge acquired and developed through world-class training and tailored capacity development activities to ensure that developing States members of ISA fully benefit from the work of ISA and activities carried out in the Area. Furthermore, iCAN has been designed to allow the establishment of monitoring tools and mechanisms to assess the mid-term and long-term impacts of the training provided and to enable the Secretariat to leverage the expertise of former participants and trainees as mentors, experts or consultants, where possible. iCAN contributes to the equitable sharing of financial and other economic benefits derived from activities in the Area and ensures the expansion of opportunities for participation in these activities by developing States.
In his opening remarks during the launch ceremony, the ISA Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, underscored the importance of this new initiative: “The launch of iCAN marks a significant milestone in ISA’s journey towards enhancing capacity development for our Member States, especially the developing States,” he said.
“Through iCAN, we aim to build a strong community of trained professionals who can contribute significantly to the sustainable and responsible development of ocean resources, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdictions. iCAN is a testament to ISA’s dedication to promoting the transfer of technology and expertise, ensuring the benefits of deep-sea research and activities are accessible to all,” he concluded.

The first call for applications witnessed an enthusiastic response, with 110 applications received. Seventy-three alums from 33 Member States were selected, including 21 applicants who completed their training over five years ago.
“Different stakeholders have a duty to cooperate in affording Member States from developing countries opportunities in marine science and technology as well as capacity development opportunities for their full participation in activities in the Area. The role of training and capacity-building in the work of ISA and its organs, in general, is a day-to-day task that we have to carry out. At the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), in particular, we follow up hand in hand with the Secretariat on the different trainings and challenges we have to tackle together,” said Dr. Erasmo A. Lara-Cabrera, ISA LTC Chair.

Prof. Mario Aurelio, Chair of ISA’s LTC training subgroup, said the launch of iCAN is an important occasion to make a milestone in ISA’s efforts to institutionalize the procedure or method to monitor the impact of ISA capacity development programmes, “not only of the training programmes connected to the obligation of the contractors but also of the other capacity development programmes connected to the ISA,” he said.

About ISA
ISA is an autonomous international organization mandated by the UNCLOS to protect the seabed for the shared benefit of humankind. ISA is committed to the principle that all nations of the world should benefit from responsible, sustainable and regulated economic activities in the deep seabed, including deep seabed mining and from the potential resources the deep seabed holds for a global green transition. The ISA works to ensure that the voices of all states and stakeholders, including developing states, civil society organizations and all ISA Member States, are effectively heard in discussions around the sustainable development of the deep seabed.

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