GSR RESPONDS TO IUCN DEEP SEABED MINING MORATORIUM VOTE
September 30, 2021
In September 2021, IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) voted to approve a motion calling for a moratorium on deep seabed mining at its annual Congress. We acknowledge the concerns expressed by those who proposed it and those who voted for it. The motion calls for several pre-conditions to be met before deep seabed mining proceeds. Here we summarise those pre-conditions and share our thoughts on each of them: 1. Rigorous and transparent impact assessments have been conducted, the environmental, social, cultural and economic risks of deep seabed mining are comprehensively understood, and the effective protection of the marine environment can be ensured GSR response: We agree with this pre-condition. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) process currently being developed ensures it will be met through its rigorous environmental, social and economic requirements: https://www.isa.org.jm/mining-code/draft-exploitation-regulations The current draft exploitation regulations (Draft Regulations - DR) developed by the ISA foresee the submission of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the application for approval of a Plan of Work (DR 7(3)(d)). The EIS documents and reports the results of the environmental impact assessment process (DR 47). This process seeks to identify, predict, evaluate and mitigate the biophysical, social and other relevant effects of the proposed mining operation (DR 47(1)(a)). To ensure that it is a transparent environmental impact assessment, the applicant must describe the nature and extent of consultation(s) that have taken place with parties identified who have existing interests in the proposed project area and with other relevant stakeholders (Annex IV of the Draft Regulations (13)). The EIS includes an assessment of impacts on the physicochemical, biological and socioeconomic environment to ensure that environmental, social, cultural and economic risks of deep seabed mining are taken into account (Annex IV of the Draft Regulations). The EIS must be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines, Good Industry Practice, Best Available Scientific Evidence, Best Environmental Practices and Best Available Techniques (DR 47(3)(d)). 2. The precautionary principle, ecosystem approach, and the polluter pays principle have been implemented GSR response: The precautionary principle, ecosystem approach, and the polluter pays principle are part of the guiding principles of ISA’s Draft Regulations (DR 2(e)), which derive from article 145 of the LOSC (Law of the Sea Convention). According to these regulations, the effective protection of the marine environment from the harmful effects which may arise from exploitation must be based on the application of:
- the precautionary approach, as reflected in principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (DR 2(e)(ii)). This is also a guiding principle for the assessment and management of risk of harm to the marine environment from exploitation in the Area (DR 44(a));
- an ecosystem approach (DR 2(e)(iii)); and
- the “polluter pays” principle through market-based instruments, mechanisms and other relevant measures (DR 2(e)(iv)).