POLICY FORUM GUYANA JOINS THE CALL FOR URGENT ACTION TO HALT DEEP-SEA MINING AND PROTECT OUR OCEANS
World Oceans Day, 8th June 2023 — Policy Forum Guyana, in collaboration with prominent regional and international bodies, is spearheading a collective effort to urge all Caribbean organizations to endorse a moratorium on activities that promote deep-sea mining. This crucial step seeks to protect our oceans and marine ecosystems from potentially irreversible damage. On this World Oceans Day, we call upon governments, citizens, and industry leaders to join forces in safeguarding the future health of our oceans and preserving the delicate balance of our planet.
A joint Statement is being prepared by an alliance of esteemed organizations, including the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, the Jamaican Environmental Trust, Sustainable Ocean Alliance-Caribbean, and Greenpeace (USA). This Statement, which highlights the urgent need for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, will be widely circulated in the coming days, rallying support and encouraging governments to take a stand for ocean health.
Regrettably, the existence and extensive powers of the International Seabed Authority, based in Jamaica, remain largely unknown to most governments and Caribbean citizens. It is crucial that we raise awareness about the International Seabed Authority and its authority to permit deep-sea mining activities. Additionally, we must emphasize that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) not only allows for a moratorium on deep-sea mining but actually requires it.
Deep-sea mining poses a significant threat to our precious oceans and the fragile ecosystems that reside within them. We must prioritize the protection of these ecosystems over the profit-driven interests of mining companies. Scientists have warned about the potentially irreversible damage that deep-sea mining can cause to critical ecosystems responsible for regulating climate change. While the extraction of minerals used in green technologies may appear enticing, we cannot overlook the potential consequences that outweigh short-term gains.
Moreover, the assumptions about future demands may no longer be accurate in the near future. The battery technology industry, for instance, is rapidly evolving and moving away from utilizing minerals found in the deep sea. Tesla, for example, has already developed a battery that contains no nickel or cobalt (Lithium iron phosphate).
Given the limited data available on deep-sea ecosystems and species, conducting a thorough analysis of the potential damage caused by mining activities is challenging. However, it is imperative that we prioritize the preservation of biodiversity and nature over immediate economic benefits. The deep sea plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by storing substantial amounts of carbon, and any disruption to these processes could have far-reaching consequences.
Although the International Seabed Authority has yet to receive any applications for actual mining, the issuance of exploration licenses and the imminent possibility of provisional licenses starting from July 2023 pose significant risks. The lack of established and approved rules and regulations raises concerns about the potentially irreparable harm that could result from a rush to exploit the depths of our oceans.
Over a dozen countries, including France, Germany, Chile, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic stand united on this issue and our aim is to have the majority of the ISA Council member countries join them. Leading global brands, such as Samsung, Google, Volvo, and BMW, have also joined the chorus of opposition against deep-sea mining. It is important to note that this list may not be exhaustive, as there may be other companies or brands that support the call for a ban, pause, or moratorium on deep-sea mining.
We call upon the International Seabed Authority Council to reject any applications for provisional licenses until a comprehensive regulatory framework is established. Only with adequate scientific information can we develop robust legislation to protect our oceans. We urgently need a pause or moratorium to gather more information and ensure the implementation of effective regulations. Prompt action is vital, as the long-term consequences of deep-sea mining are simply too significant to overlook.
On this World Oceans Day, we implore the International Seabed Authority and its member states to prioritize the protection of our oceans and the preservation of biodiversity. Let us not sacrifice the health of our planet and its delicate ecosystems for short-term economic gains. It is time to halt deep-sea mining and explore sustainable alternatives that do not compromise the well-being of our environment and future generations.
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About Policy Forum Guyana:
Policy Forum Guyana is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable policies and advocating for the well-being of Guyana’s people and its environment. Through research, advocacy, and partnerships, Policy Forum Guyana works towards a just and prosperous future for both current and future. For more information, visit our website.