Participants of the Regional Environmental Management Workshop in Nadi
5 October 2015
Nadi, Fiji – Recognising the importance of a consultative approach to the topic of deep sea minerals, the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project is this week holding a regional workshop in Fiji on environmental management options for deep sea minerals development.
Representatives from 11 Pacific Island governments, civil society groups, the private sector and international environment experts are participating in the workshop which opened today and runs until Thursday in Nadi.
Comprising panel discussions, working group activities, presentations by mining companies and international environment experts, the workshop will be an opportune time for participants to ask experts relevant questions about the environmental issues and impacts associated with deep sea mining.
A major component of the workshop will involve a review of two important regional environmental documents which will serve as guides for Pacific Island countries.
Firstly, the Regional Environment Management Framework contains an Environment Impact Assessment template developed for deep sea minerals activities, and secondly, the Regional Deep Sea Minerals Scientific Research Guideline has been written for Pacific Island countries and territories to use to develop their respective national marine science guidelines or regulations.
These documents are aimed to assist Pacific States to ensure that marine scientific research, prospecting, exploration and mining activities relating to deep sea minerals are well managed and performed in accordance with international standards and best environmental practice.
In addition to the workshop’s environment management component, civil society representatives attending the workshop will hold a meeting amongst themselves to discuss ways in which they can better engage in deep sea mining discussions; as well as their positions on deep sea mining and issues they wish to raise with the experts.
“There’s still more to learn about how the ocean environment may be affected by deep sea minerals exploration and mining activities, given this type of mining is yet to commence in the Pacific Islands region,” SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project Manager, Akuila Tawake, said.
“It’s important for Pacific governments to possess greater in-depth knowledge of the environmental management of deep sea minerals and how to implement effective strategies that will ensure seabed resources are properly and responsibly managed,” Mr Akuila said.
Pacific countries represented at the regional meeting include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Palau.
This is the eighth regional workshop in the SPC-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project series.
Deep sea minerals occurring in the Exclusive Economic Zones of many Pacific Island countries are increasingly being recognised as a future potential source of economic development.
26 August 2015
Participants of the Pacific ACP States 7th regional training workshop in Nadi, Fiji
Nadi, Fiji- Deep sea mining is an emerging industry in the Pacific region and has the potential to become a major new revenue stream for Pacific Island countries.
Effective management of this revenue will be critical to ensure that long term benefits are realised.
Through the European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project, the Pacific Community (SPC) is partnering with the International Monetary Fund and the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre to hold a workshop in Nadi this week (24-27 August) that focuses on the management of revenue emanating from deep sea minerals development.
Representatives from 14 Pacific Island countries, civil society groups, the private sector, finance officials and experts have been invited to participate.
The workshop aims to develop and discuss appropriate fiscal regimes, revenue management and public financial management options that can be considered and implemented for deep sea minerals mining.
“This is part of EU ongoing efforts to assist Pacific countries to prepare to effectively manage deep sea mineral resources that occur within their waters and their interests in the international seabed area,” SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project Manager, Akuila Tawake, said.
“Participants will learn how to develop appropriate revenue management schemes to ensure that countries receive their fair share of the proceeds from such mining,” Mr Tawake added.
Pacific countries are rightly concerned that Deep Sea Mining projects must be socially acceptable, ensure that the environment is protected and guarantee that they contribute to the genuine development and prosperity of the countries and their people said Johnny Engell-Hansen, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.
On the basis of case study exercises, the participants are also expected to discuss, consider and endorse the Pacific Islands Regional Deep Sea Minerals Financial Framework, developed by SPC and the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre.
Pacific ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) States represented include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
This is the seventh regional training workshop in the Deep Sea Minerals project series. The mining of deep sea minerals is yet to commence in the Pacific region.
5th June 2015
Honiara, Solomon Islands- The Pacific Community, the European Union and the Government of the Solomon Islands hosted a national youth debate on deep sea minerals on Thursday (4 June 2015) at the National Auditorium in Honiara.
SPC initiated this debate in an effort to increase public awareness of issues related to deep seabed minerals in the Pacific, including for the Solomon Islands.
The debate featured 14 youths from nine high schools in Honiara.
Prior to the debate, the students took part in training after school hours on different aspects of deep sea minerals and mining to improve their understanding of the potential positive and negative aspects of this emerging industry and what it may mean for the Solomon Islands.
“The debate aimed to encourage young people and students to research and gain more knowledge on matters relating to deep sea minerals and to encourage a participatory approach whereby all stakeholders can frankly exchange views on various issues relating to deep sea minerals,” the SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project Team Leader, Akuila Tawake said.
“This initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to increase public understanding of the key issues related to the management of deep sea mineral resources rights across the Pacific region,” Mr Tawake added.
"The debate aims to raise awareness and involve civil society in a process that does present strong arguments in favour and against. The economic benefits need to be carefully weighed by all stakeholders against possible environmental and social costs,” the European Union’s Head of Operations in Solomon Islands, Ioannis-Pavlos Evangelidis, said.
“I hope this debate will help sensitise the Solomon Islands Government and its people around a question that could influence future generations. I hope that collectively, we can reach an informed decision, rather than leave the initiative to the private sector,” he added.
“I am privileged and honoured to be part of this debate organized by SPC and the Solomon Islands Government. I have learned a lot of things during the course of the trainings. As a Solomon Island citizen and a future leader of tomorrow, this debate will help me make the right decisions when the time comes, but for the time being I am happy to be able to create awareness of issues relating to deep sea minerals and mining,” Debate winner, Ms Patisha Del Wate from King George IV High School said.
Deep sea mineral deposits, such as seafloor massive sulphides, cobalt rich crusts and manganese nodules, have been discovered within the Exclusive Economic Zones of Pacific Island countries and territories, sparking commercial interests from mining companies due to the high concentration of metals like copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, cobalt, nickel and platinum.
These minerals are increasingly being recognized as a future potential source of revenue and economic development for many Pacific Island countries.
23 July 2015
Picture 1: SPC Chief Geoscientist, Dr Kifle Kahsai (left) signs the MOU with ISA Secretariat-General, Nii A Odunton (right)
Picture 2: Officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Republic of the Marshall Islands, SPC, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and USA at the MOU signing ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica - The Pacific Community (SPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which is currently holding its 21st annual session in Jamaica.
The MOU expresses the mutual interests of SPC and ISA in developing regional and national frameworks that support the interests of both organisation’s Pacific member states, and efforts to regulate and manage deep sea mineral activities in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction; conducting marine scientific research and analysis results; and participating in capacity-building initiatives and sharing seabed resources information.
Chief Geoscientist at SPC, Dr Kifle Kahsai, said the MOU will strengthen partnership of the two organisations.
“The decision of the Council to approve the proposed MOU between the Authority and the Pacific Community is a vibrant testimony of the remarkable relationship established between the two organizations over the years,” Dr Kahsai said. “The highest level outcome of the partnership between SPC and the Authority will enable the Pacific Community to provide consistent and comprehensive assistance to all Pacific Island States who decide to engage with deep sea mineral activities,” Dr Kahsai added.
SPC is one of five organisations granted observer status to the ISA Assembly.
Established in 1994 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority is responsible for the development and implementation of global rules, regulations and procedures for the exploration and extraction of seabed mineral resources as well as the protection of the seafloor environment beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
Delegations from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu have been participating in the International Seabed Authority’s 21st annual session (from 14-24 July), with assistance from the SPC-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project.
A side-event was held (20 July) by SPC with the strong participation of the Pacific Delegations attending the annual session of the Authority in order to raise awareness of the progress achieved in the Pacific Island Region with regards to the development of national consultation workshops, national deep sea minerals regulatory frameworks, in-country capacity building initiatives and future activities of the SPC-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project.
Participation of Pacific Island governments to the Authority is of critical importance as it allows them to engage in, and influence, decisions taken by the authority, ensuring that decisions align with their national interests, and those of the Pacific region.
SPC Director, Michael Petterson (middle) with 8 former DSM legal interns (from left : Teona Ivano [PNG], Melino Bain-Vete [Fiji], Maito’o Hauirae [Solomoni Islands]; Eric Iban [RMI]; Taaitulagi Tuioti [Samoa]; Asterio Takashi [Tuvalu]; Calvy Aonima [Solomon Islands]; and Aisiena Taumoepeau [Tonga]) at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia, Samoa
27 May 2015
Apia, Samoa- The Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union will establish a community of practice for Pacific Islands' policy officers and legislative drafters involved in deep sea minerals.
The new initiative is a key outcome of an intensive regional training workshop on deep sea minerals policy formulation and legislative drafting hosted by the Government of Samoa and organised with SPC in Apia last week.
The virtual community of practitioners will usefully exchange practices, experiences, questions and challenges with regards to the development and implementation of their deep sea mineral policies and legislation.
The Director of SPC's Geoscience Division, Professor Mike Petterson, said the initiative will enable policy officers and legislative drafters to share and discuss the future development of deep sea mineral regulatory frameworks, including the strengths and weaknesses in existing deep sea mineral policies and legislation, and to grasp whether there is a need for further development and changes.
"Additionally it will ensure that there's a better understanding of the needs and priorities of the Pacific region as a whole, as well as the ability to identify possible areas of regional cooperation and information sharing for deep sea mineral activities," Prof Petterson said.
The new virtual community will be facilitated through a blog or portal managed by SPC as part of its European Union-funded Deep Sea Minerals Project.
"The community of practice proposed within the project will enhance the governance of deep sea minerals in the region," the Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, said. "It is another effort to ensure that deep sea minerals in the Pacific are managed sustainably and we are supportive of such efforts."
Initiated in 2011, the project has been assisting Pacific Island countries in accessing all available information and for those who wish to engage in deep sea mineral activities, by supporting informed governance in accordance with international law, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for the benefit of Pacific people.
As one of its key result areas, the project aims to assist Pacific Island countries in the formulation of national policy, legislation and regulations to ensure the responsible governance and careful management of deep sea mineral resources.
The workshop in Apia, Samoa, was attended by 70 participants from 13 Pacific Island countries.