Regional Informational Workshop Group

A high-level workshop on ‘Deep-seabed Resources and the Blue Economy,’ organized by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in partnership with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, was held in Nay Pyi Taw, this week.

Co-sponsored by the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), the 2-day workshop held from 9 to 10 September, was targeted at identifying the capacity-building needs of the Members of ISA, along with ASEAN and BIMSTEC Members, as well as raising awareness of the opportunities associated with increasing their participation in activities in the international deep-seabed Area.

In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General of ISA, Mr. Michael W. Lodge, underlined the significance of this year’s 25th anniversary of ISA and the entry into force of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) for countries in the region.

“The strong commitment of ASEAN and BIMSTEC Members to the rule of law in the ocean is amply demonstrated by the commitment these States have shown to the work of ISA over the last 25 years,” said Mr. Lodge, noting that Myanmar has participated in every session of ISA since 1994 and that India and Singapore have both sponsored exploration contracts in the international seabed Area. 

“This workshop recognizes the need to consider the implementation of international law through UNCLOS in the context of the Blue Economy as a whole, particularly in regard to the 2030 Agenda and accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources,” added Mr. Lodge.

In his opening address, H.E Mr. Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for the Ministry of International Cooperation of Myanmar emphasized that there has been “increased and more active participation of the ASEAN and the BIMSTEC member countries in the work of the Authority and in the activities in the Area in recent years.”

“This development presents significant potential for economic advancement of the region,” said Mr. Kyaw Tin. “As such, it is imperative that the States’ abilities to effectively participate in the work of the Authority and access the marine resources in the Area be enhanced. Capacity building and transfer of knowledge and technology are key to realizing the maximum abilities of developing countries to exploit and conserve marine resources in the Area.”

Over the course of the workshop, participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Lao DPR, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam engaged in a series of discussions on the role and responsibilities of the institutions established by UNCLOS, and particularly ISA. These included the need and current framework to ensure conservation and protection of the marine environment, and the potential prospects of increased participation of ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries in activities in the Area.

Experts and official representatives from Myanmar and KMI, along with the BIMSTEC and ASEAN secretariats, the Changsha Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Co. Ltd, the China Ocean Mineral Resource R&D Association, and the National Institute of Oceanography of India, were also in attendance.

The workshop concluded with a list of recommendations and suggestions which were identified by participants as important elements to take into consideration in developing further initiatives and projects designed to strengthen the technical capacities of ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries in deep-seabed related disciplines.