Celebrating World Oceans Day on 8 June 2023, the Secretariat of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) organized a series of events highlighting the role of marine scientific research in advancing the global understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and enabling the sustainable management of the Area and its resources, including concrete actions to promote empowerment and leadership of women scientists in deep-sea research.

In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General of ISA, H.E. Mr. Michael Lodge, underscored the positive progress realized in deep-sea research under the umbrella of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “Years of hard work on the front lines of international diplomacy, supported by the best available scientific evidence, mean that every year more and concrete steps are taken to work together, collectively and in a spirit of multilateralism, to take the measures that are necessary to manage natural resources effectively, develop new resources and reduce pollution of all kinds,” he said.

Since 2021, ISA has implemented the Women in Deep-Sea Research project with the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Islands Developing States. The project mobilized more than 20 partners and produced the first-ever gender mapping analysis report summarizing critical barriers to women scientists from least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small islands developing States (SIDS) in the field of deep-sea research in 2022. The report identified that one of the key challenges for women scientists from these countries is the lack of career guidance, which inspired the creation of the new mentoring programme.

Launch of the S.H.E. (See Her Exceed) Mentoring Programme

A webinar organized in the morning was dedicated to the launch of the See Her Exceed (S.H.E.) Mentoring Programme for women scientists from developing States in deep-sea research. About a hundred participants attended the event. It was an opportunity to recall the key findings of the gender mapping report released in 2022. The webinar was also the opportunity to feature inspiring testimonials of several women scientists from developing States, highlighting some key challenges they faced in their careers and how they overcame them.

Intervening in the high-level segment, H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, welcomed the launch of the mentoring programme in response to the recommendations of the report. Ms. Fatima highlighted that the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs attaches high importance to achieving gender equality, equal opportunities and empowerment of all women, especially through harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation.

“The mentoring programme launched today is a welcome initiative to fulfill this endeavor in the niche area of deep-sea research,” she said.

“My office has a unique mandate to support 90 of the most vulnerable countries in the world, namely the 46 LDCs, 32 LLDCs and 37 SIDS. We value our collaboration with ISA in strengthening the deep-sea scientific capacity of ISA members from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS,” she added.

Ms. Lucía Scheinkman, a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, commended ISA and its partners on the launch of the programme. “The S.H.E. Mentoring Programme will not only help women to progress in their careers and achieve leadership roles but will also serve as an inspiration for future generations of women and girls to take an interest in marine science,” she said.

Nine exploration contractors have pledged to support the Women in Deep-Sea Research project since 2021 and allocate 50 per cent of training opportunities to qualified women. Ms. Maria Lisniowski, an oceanographer at the Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM), reiterated her institution’s commitment to training women in deep-sea research. “Over the last years, we have made significant progress in providing training opportunities for young researchers, with at least 50 per cent of them being women,” she said.

In the presence of several deep-sea research experts who have accepted to serve as mentors and to share their expertise and knowledge with selected women scientists from developing States over a 12-month period and help them realize their full potential, Dr. Samantha Smith, CEO of Blue Globe Solutions and coordinator of the S.H.E. Mentoring Programme, formally launched the call for expression of interest from mentees.

Eight internationally renowned mentors have accepted to join the initiative:

  • Ann Vanreusel, Professor, marine and lacustrine sciences and management, University of Gent
  • Annemiek Vink, Marine geo-biologist, German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources
  • Cindy Van Dover, Distinguished Professor of biological oceanography, Duke University
  • François Charlet, Exploration Manager, Global Sea Mineral Resources NV
  • Joshua Tiwangye Tuhumwir, Member of ISA Legal and Technical Commission
  • Marzia Rovere, Researcher, marine geology, Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy
  • Pedro Madureira, Associate Professor, University of Évora
  • Rahul Sharma, Freelance consultant, deep-sea mining.

The ISA Secretariat will be accepting applications from mentees until 31 August 2023. More information is available at https://www.isa.org.jm/widsr-mentoring-programme.

Winners of the 2023 ISA “Mysteries of the Abyss” art competition

The online event concluded with the announcement of the winners of the 2023 ISA “Mysteries of the Abyss” art competition organized in two categories. In the international competition, open to everyone in the world over the age of 16, the winners are Kamaal Manboard (37) from Jamaica (first prize), Kimingi Twesi (30) from Kenya (second prize) and Wanni Arachchige Damitha Nayananjani Monarawila (28) from Sri Lanka (third prize). In the local competition, open to school children in Jamaica up to the age of 16, the winners are Amanda Emmanuel (13) (first prize), Shaniquea Williams (15) (second prize) and Georgian Watson (16) (third prize). You can see their artwork at https://www.isa.org.jm/world-oceans-day/.

Inspiring the next generation of ocean ambassadors

After the online event, ISA received about 70 elementary school students from Emmanuel Christian Academy between the ages of 8 and 10 years at its headquarters in Kingston. The children were engaged in different deep-sea literacy activities, such as the ISA Wakatoon activity, “Discover the seabed with Olivia.” Joining deep-sea scientist Dr. Olivia aboard a submarine, they delved into the mysteries of the deep sea through interactive coloring pages. Each chapter of this captivating coloring book is thoughtfully designed to introduce young minds to the intricate complexities surrounding the management of over half of the world’s ocean seabed.

In addition to this thrilling adventure, the children were introduced to the “Life Under Water Pre-School Companion.” This innovative educational tool serves as an inspiration, empowering children to actively participate in the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans. This companion nurtures a deep understanding of the importance of preserving these precious resources by increasing their knowledge of ocean health and instilling a sense of responsibility towards coastal and marine areas.


For media enquiries, please contact:

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