On 28 June 2022, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, underscored the importance of strategic partnerships towards transformative actions in support of women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research, especially in technical and emerging fields of ocean science and engineering such as deep-sea research.

Addressing the participants in a joint side event organized by the World Maritime University, the International Maritime Organization and ISA during the second day of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference entitled “Empowering women: an ocean of opportunities in science, policy and blue economy”, Secretary-General Lodge reaffirmed the commitment of ISA to ensure that women scientists from developing States, and especially those from least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, can be provided with opportunities to access leadership positions.

“Unless systematic change is introduced to reduce the gender gap, existing ocean-based sectors as well as emerging and future ocean-based sectors such as marine energy and marine minerals, will continue to suffer from the same lack of gender parity,” Secretary-General Lodge said.

Mr. Lodge, who has been an International Gender Champion since 2020, drew attention to several of ISA’s initiatives, including the recent launch of the International Gender Champions’ Impact Group on Research and Oceans for Women (IGROW), which is co-chaired by ISA Secretary-General, Ambassador Viliami Va’inga Tone of Tonga and the UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares; and the Women in Deep-Sea Research project, which has achieved significant progress and is organizing the first ever “Women in the Law of the Sea” conference to be hosted by ISA and UN-OLA in September 2022 in New York City.

Later during the day, Mr. Lodge intervened as a panelist at a side event organized by UN-OHRLLS on “Ocean partnerships and science-based solutions for strengthening sustainable ocean economies in SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs[1]” and reminded participants that “the regime for the deep seabed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is one of the few international governance regimes that has been designed in such a way that the interests and needs of developing States are fully integrated.”

As such, ISA has been developing capacity-building programmes and initiatives to address the needs that its developing member States have identified to facilitate their participation in the regime for the deep sea.

“[It is] more important than ever that capacity development and transfer of marine technology are aligned with progress at the cutting edge of research and technological development. Everyone should be able to benefit from the new ocean science paradigm, including SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs,” he said.

Mr. Lodge cited, among other initiatives, the ISA Contractors’ Training Programme; the Abyssal Initiative for Blue Growth implemented in partnership with UN DESA and supported by NORAD to assist Pacific-SIDS that are sponsoring activities in the Area; the Africa Deep-Seabed Resources (ADSR) project implemented in partnership with the African Union and supported by NORAD; the ISA-China Joint Training and Research Centre, which hosted its first training session in May 2022; and the Women in Deep-Sea Research (WIDSR) project to advance women empowerment and leadership in deep-sea research, implemented in partnership with UN-OHRLLS and more than 20 partners.

Secretary-General Lodge also elaborated on how ISA’s actions contribute to specific and strategic needs identified by SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs themselves, based on the priorities defined in the Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs and in the Doha Programme of Action for LDCs.

The written versions of the Secretary-General’s statements are accessible here.


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