Invited to attend the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable Development as ministerial respondent in the session on “Restoring the conditions for SDG progress in African Countries, least developed countries and landlocked developing Countries”, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, highlighted the opportunities opened by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to all developing States including the most vulnerable of them as well as the importance of this treaty for the realization of the socio-economic development objectives.

The interactive panel discussion reflected on ways to restore conditions for progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa, least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his intervention, Mr. Lodge underlined a series of initiatives implemented by ISA since 2017 to empower African States, LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to take advantage of the opportunities open to them under UNCLOS.

Among the initiatives mentioned were the Africa Deep-Sea Resources project implemented in partnership with Norway and the African Mineral Development Centre of the African Union to build capacity and assist African States – including LDCs and LLDCs – to better understand the economic potential of deep-sea resources. The Secretary-General of ISA also highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships in fostering international and regional cooperation. “A Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union will soon further elevate our cooperation and provide a platform for more innovative partnerships to equip and empower the future generation of African leaders,” Mr. Lodge said.

The Women in Deep-Sea Research project implemented with UN-OHRLLS[i] and more than 10 governments, private sector entities and regional and international organizations aims to address the specific challenges faced by women scientists from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to access leadership positions in marine scientific research, and especially deep-sea research.

“The deep sea may seem remote from the immediate and urgent challenges of today. The reality, however, is that investing today in science and technology, including the empowerment of women, is fundamental to addressing these challenges tomorrow,” Mr. Lodge noted.

The Secretary-General also underlined specific commitments made by ISA in the context of the accelerated roadmap for implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs. “These are intended to support LLDCs to overcome the obstacles caused by geography and take advantage of specific provisions of UNCLOS,” he said.

The HLPF event recognized that innovative partnerships and institutional mechanisms are desperately needed to finance COVID-19 responses, support economic transitions and social protection, and ensure the participation of women and youth.

“The regime for the deep seabed under UNCLOS is one of the few international governance regimes that has been designed specifically in such a way that the interests and needs of developing States are fully integrated into the regime,” Mr. Lodge emphasized. “This organization is yours, as well as the opportunities it opens to all. I therefore urge African States, LDCs and LLDCs to continue to take full advantage of the regime and realize the benefits that are available.”


The written statement is available here: Secretary-General intervention at HLPF on Sustainable Development.

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[i] Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States