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On 1 January 2021, the world will herald the start of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). A new decade filled with the promise and potential to achieve a more sustainable future for our oceans.
The data collected through deep-sea marine research and exploration will play a critical part in realizing the objectives of the UN Decade, including advancing knowledge of marine biodiversity and ecological processes, and the impacts of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems.
We are entering an unparalleled decade of deep-sea exploration where advancing scientific knowledge for the benefit of all humanity through renewed international collaboration, technology development, capacity building, and information transfer will be key.
With the global population expected to swell to 8.6 billion by 2030, the world is looking to the deep ocean for renewable energy solutions to meet growing resource demands.
Our ocean holds the key to some of our world’s greatest challenges, such as combating climate change and ensuring affordable and clean energy for all.
One of those challenges will be to satisfy the increasing global demand for critical minerals to support a future society based on renewable energy and technology. As the world’s population continues to grow, from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050, it will be critical to find new sources of reliable and ethically sourced minerals.
As we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2020, we are reminded of the need to renew our commitments to improve access for women from developing States to education and training, and ensure their increased participation in the field of ocean science, particularly in deep-sea scientific research.
There has never been a time of greater promise or greater challenge for the future of our oceans. This is the topic on everyone’s minds as the international community gathers in Copenhagen this week for the first Global Planning Meeting for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
Mining and metals are essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the world’s population continues to grow, from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050, the demand for critical metals will continue to increase. The European Commission estimates for example, that demand for copper – one of the key minerals of interest for deep seabed mining, could rise by up to 341% by 2050 compared to 2010.
Deep sea mineral exploration is one of the most tightly regulated activities in the ocean. Under international law, exploration, as distinct from marine scientific research (which is open to all States), may only be undertaken under a contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an intergovernmental organization based in Jamaica and established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).