On 26 January 2023, during an official visit to Belgium, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, met with Belgium’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and the North Sea, H. E. Mr. Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Federal Cultural Institutions, H.E. Ms. Hadja Lahbib.

The Secretary-General and the Belgian high-level representatives discussed progress in the work of ISA, particularly efforts by ISA Member States towards protecting the marine environment and adopting the draft regulations for the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area. The contribution of Belgium to this process as a member of the Council and its support for ISA programmatic activities were also discussed. Finally, different avenues to strengthen bilateral and regional collaboration were identified, including ways to bridge potential knowledge gaps further.

Mr. Vincent Van Quickenborne noted, “Belgium has always been ambitious on the international front in protecting the marine environment as shown by its leading role in the Blue Leaders, an international coalition of countries that want to protect the international marine environment. Our tradition of close collaboration with valuable organizations like ISA strengthens that international role. I want to thank the Secretary-General for his work in protecting our oceans.”

Secretary-General Lodge acknowledged Belgium’s strong and continuous commitment towards the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the 1994 Agreement and the work of ISA. “This support of Belgium and many other States Party to UNCLOS testifies to the importance recognized of the rule of law in ocean affairs and of preserving the fragile balance between rights and obligations upon which multilateralism depends,” he said.

“The efforts of Belgium to support ISA in delivering its unique mandate through the trust and confidence placed in its organs and processes are quite remarkable. I look forward to furthering the relationship between Belgium and ISA to ensure that we can create important synergies for lasting and transformative actions,” Secretary-General Lodge added.

Belgium has been a party to UNCLOS and, therefore, a Member of ISA since 1998. Belgium is also the sponsoring State of Global Sea Mineral Resources NV (GSR), which signed a 15-year contract with ISA for the exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in 2013. Since January 2023, Belgium also has had a seat as a Member of the ISA Council.


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