ISA Newsletter
December 2020

In this issue:

Season's Greetings!

As we reflect on 2020 and the progress made by the International Seabed Authority in fulfilling the mandate given to it by UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement thanks to the support of our members and observers, the Secretariat wishes you all the very best for the holiday season and the new year.
Please receive wishes from the staff of the Secretariat in more than 20 different languages (English, Spanish, Korean, Dutch, French, Chinese, Croatian, German, Patois, Cibemba, Fijian, Japanese, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Hausa, i-Kiribati), reflecting the diversity, multiculturalism, dedication and energy of our entire Organization, designed to benefit all humanity.

2020 Highlights

Although 2020 has been a challenging year, many important achievements can be highlighted.


ISA moves towards a more pragmatic approach to capacity development

Thanks to an extensive review of its capacity development activities since 1994, in-depth analysis and discussions held with experts during a workshop in Kingston in February, and the consultation of ISA members between April and June, the Secretariat is now in possession of all the relevant elements to start designing a dedicated strategy to meet the priority needs of its members, as identified by them. ISA looks forward to working with all relevant stakeholders in 2021 to progress further on this with a view to ensure an improved participation of its members, developing States, in its work and in the activities undertaken in the Area.

ISA-China Joint Training and Research Centre officially launched

ISA and China have officially launched the Joint Training and Research Centre (JTRC) in November this year. Established under the MoU that was approved by the ISA Assembly during its 25th session, the JTRC will provide a new platform for ISA to foster capacity-building and advance the transfer of marine technology and scientific knowledge to developing countries, and enhance their participation in the scientific activities and programmes conducted in the Area.

First two African experts successfully deployed to ISA Secretariat under the ADSR project

Mrs. Tini Guitoba and Mrs. Judith Owusu were the first two experts selected in the context of the Africa Deep Seabed Resources (ADSR) project. They joined the ISA Secretariat in January for two months to strengthen their expertise in geology and ocean / Blue Economy policy while contributing to the work of the Secretariat. A total of 10 experts from different African States, including 5 women, will be deployed to the ISA Secretariat in the course of 2020/2021.

 Marine Scientific Research

ISA Deep-Sea Exploration Museum named in honour of Mr Nii Allotey Odunton

The 26th Session of the Assembly formally decided to name ISA’s Deep-Sea Exploration Museum in honour of its former Secretary-General, Mr Nii Allotey Odunton, recognizing his contribution to the advancement of the mandate of the Organization.  Mr Nii Allotey Odunton, from Ghana, served as ISA Secretary-General from 2009 to 2016.

ISA launched its Action Plan for Marine Scientific Research in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

With the plan, officially approved in December, Secretary-General Lodge said that ISA intends to "increase its efforts to ensure that together with our members and all other interested stakeholders we build and reinforce strategic partnerships for creating the synergies needed to successfully deliver the ‘Science we need for the ocean we want’”. Argentina has agreed to serve as Champion and to help mobilize the necessary efforts for the effective implementation of the action plan.

Towards a collaborative knowledge platform on mid-ocean ridge ecosystems of the Indian Ocean

International experts reviewed during a virtual workshop on 15-17 December the progress made by contractors and scientific communities in advancing scientific understanding of hydrothermal vent / mid-ocean ridge ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. They identified priority areas for addressing knowledge gaps, and outlined ways to enhance collaboration among and between contractors and the scientific community to support long-term observation and monitoring.

 protection of the marine environment

Regional environmental management plans (REMPs)

ISA continued its work in 2020 towards the development of REMPs through two virtual workshops focusing on the development of REMPs for the area of the Northwest Pacific (26 Oct-6 Nov) and for the area of the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (23 Nov-4 Dec).

Towards a deep-sea taxonomic knowledge platform

To inform the creation of a future dedicated deep-sea taxonomic knowledge platform, the Secretariat organized a virtual workshop on 'Deep-Sea Taxonomic Standardization’ (15-16 Sep). Participants discussed ways to support and contribute to the effective generation, use, and sharing of taxonomic information of deep-sea biological communities, including through the ISA DeepData database.

 Exploration of the area

Blue Minerals Jamaica Limited’s plan of work approved

On 14 December the ISA Council approved Blue Minerals Jamaica (BMJ) Limited’s plan of work for exploration of polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. BMJ will be able to sign a fifteen-year contract with ISA to explore an area of almost 75,000 km2, made of parts of reserved areas. This contract will make Jamaica, the host country of ISA, the second Caribbean country and the sixth small island developing State to sponsor a contractor for exploration in the Area and will bring the total number of contracts 31.

Comparative analysis of the financial aspects of seabed mining versus land-based mining released

The Secretariat released in October a summary of studies on the potential impact of mineral production from the international seabed area on the economies of developing land-based producers of these minerals. The Secretariat subsequently organized a follow-up webinar to present the findings of the comparative analysis as well as progress on the financial model being prepared by MIT.


Mr. Michael W. Lodge reelected as Secretary-General of ISA

On 3 December 2020, members of the International Seabed Authority reelected Mr. Michael W. Lodge as Secretary-General for a second term commencing in January 2021. Secretary-General Lodge, who will serve another 4-year term, stated: “I am grateful for the confidence expressed in me by member States and I look forward to continuing to serve the Authority through its important work over the next four years”.

Draft Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy open for consultation

ISA has invited comments from stakeholders on the draft Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy prepared by the Secretariat. ISA is committed to meaningful and informed engagement with all stakeholders in the work of its different organs and in the advancement of its mandate, as reflected in the Strategic Plan and the High-Level Action Plan. Members of the Authority and all other stakeholders are invited to submit their comments to the Secretariat by 29 January 2021.

A new format for the Secretary-General Annual Report

In September, along with its official report, the Secretariat released a report titled ‘Achieving the sustainable use of deep-sea minerals for the benefit of humankind’. It is presented in a new format aimed at providing ISA members and the wider ISA community with a comprehensive overview of the scope and extent of the progress achieved in implementing the mandate of ISA over the past year. 

Not to miss in 2021

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