by Michael W Lodge, ISA Secretary-General

JAMAICA, Kingston (10 November 2019) – If the cross-cutting role of ocean science in furthering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is widely recognized, then the contribution of deep-sea marine scientific research to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should also be fully realized. In fact, the research results and data collected through deep-sea marine research and exploration will play a critical part in realizing all aspects of the Blue Economy, including advancing knowledge of marine biodiversity and ecological processes, as well as the impacts of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems.

To date, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued 30 contracts for exploration of the international deep seabed area involving 22 different countries, including 12 developing States. The research undertaken as part of these contracts, coupled with almost 40 years of ongoing research on the deep-seabed, is the main source of data contributing significantly to our understanding of the deep seabed ecosystems and functions.

This year, ISA launched DeepData, the first-ever global open access deep-sea flora and fauna database centralizing all the available information collected on these ecosystems by deep-sea explorers under contract with ISA. Through DeepData, we have the opportunity to deliver transformative knowledge on the biodiversity of the seabed and to create a lasting legacy of tools that can increase knowledge for the benefit of all humanity and facilitate the effective protection of the marine environment and conservation of marine biodiversity.

Several initiatives and programmes are also currently implemented by ISA to meet the capacity-building needs of developing States with a view to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, particularly SDG 14 on oceans, seas and marine resources. 

Recognizing these synergies, IOC-UNESCO and ISA have recently joined forces to meet their strategic objectives and those of the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development for 2021-2030 to universally foster action to advance ocean science for the benefit of all mankind as a whole.

By working together, we can improve deep-sea marine science and address knowledge gaps to deliver the ocean we need for the future we want.