Article – Policy Forum Guyana Achieves Milestone in Protecting Oceans

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Policy Forum Guyana Achieves Milestone in Protecting Oceans. (Aug 8, 2023 - Village Voice)

Posted in The Village Voice on August 08, 2023.

Release. Policy Forum Guyana, along with regional and international partners, is happy to announce a significant development in our mission to protect oceans and marine ecosystems. On World Oceans Day, 8th June 2023, our collective efforts to endorse a moratorium on deep-sea mining activities in the Caribbean reached a crucial milestone.

During the latest general assembly meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which took place on ??in Jamaica, the start of any deep-sea mining operations was effectively delayed. In a three-week negotiation, the ISA assembly committed to adopting mining regulations by 2025. They also pledged to discuss a long-term “precautionary pause” on mining, spearheaded by France, Chile, Costa Rica, Palau, and Vanuatu, during a general assembly meeting next year. A total of 21 countries have joined the call for a ban, precautionary pause, or moratorium on deep seabed mining, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

These decisions came after challenging negotiations, as China initially blocked the moratorium motion. However, China has now agreed to include the moratorium on the agenda for 2024.

The discussions at the ISA general assembly revealed divisions within the organization, with proponents and opponents of deep-sea mining emphasising their environmental stances. Proponents argue that mining provides metals for green transition efforts, while opponents express concerns about the potential unknown and disastrous environmental impact of extraction.

At the heart of these discussions is the “two-year rule,” requiring the ISA council to provisionally approve mining applications within two years of submission, even before finalizing related regulations.

Environmentalists warmly welcome the compromise as an opportunity for the ISA assembly, comprising 168 member states and the EU, to have a proper discussion on whether mining should proceed at all.

Gina Guillén Grillo, Costa Rica’s representative to the ISA, expressed disappointment that a single country could stifle the assembly’s proceedings and hopes for a discussion next year.

Experts warn about the far-reaching impact of deep-sea mining, possibly greater than initially believed.

Outside the ISA negotiations in Kingston, an art exhibit titled “Ocean Depths Unveiled: Preserving the Abyss” took place. Organized by Ecovybz Environmental Creatives and Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA) Caribbean, the exhibit celebrated the wonders of the deep sea and urged the protection and preservation of our planet’s critical carbon sink.

As we welcome the progress at the ISA general assembly, our work continues. The International Seabed Authority’s existence and powers remain largely unknown to many governments and Caribbean citizens. We must raise awareness about the ISA and its authority to permit deep-sea mining activities, and emphasize that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea requires a moratorium.

Policy Forum Guyana reiterates the importance of prioritizing biodiversity and nature over immediate economic interests. We stand united with over a dozen countries and leading global brands, including Samsung, Google, Volvo, and BMW, in calling for a comprehensive regulatory framework and a pause or moratorium on deep-sea mining until adequate scientific information is available.

Let us work together to safeguard the future health of our oceans and preserve the delicate balance of our planet.