The Cook Islands recently hosted an international workshop on Deep Seabed Environmental Management and Monitoring (SBM) from July 26-29, 2021, with more than 120 virtual and local participants.
Jointly organized by the Seabed Minerals Authority (SBMA), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the capacity building workshop was offered to Pacific countries that sponsored activities of SBM in the international seabed area. , namely the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga.
Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, international attendees joined virtually while local attendees gathered at the Muri Beach Club Hotel. Foreign participants included seabed experts, Pacific governments, entrepreneurs, observers, and regional, international and civil society organizations. Local participants included government agencies, traditional and religious leaders, civil society as well as the SBM Advisory Committee.
Opening the workshop, Prime Minister Mark Brown stressed the importance of building the capacity of Pacific sponsor countries to ensure the sustainable and responsible development of seabed minerals for the benefit of all mankind.
“This workshop is a further step towards our collective commitment to ensure the sound and sustainable management of deep seabed minerals within and beyond our national jurisdictions,” he said.
Topics covered during the workshop included SBM’s international legal framework and application of the precautionary approach, responsibilities of sponsoring states, environmental risk and impact assessments, environmental data sharing, and enabling technologies. high sea.
Presenters from Cook Islands included CIIC Seabed Resources Ltd, Managing Director Eusenio Fatialofa, SBMA GIS Manager Rima Browne, Gerald McCormack of the National Heritage Trust and SBMA Commissioner Alex Herman. Fatialofa spoke about the environmental studies undertaken during a recent expedition to the seabed. Browne spoke about the development of the Cook Islands SBM Information Management System. McCormack presented a precautionary approach to seabed mining in the Cook Islands. Herman presented SBM’s environmental obligations as well as the capacity building and development needs of the Cook Islands.
“I am happy that we had a high level of participation from the Cook Islands, especially as the international SWM issues are not as well understood as the developments within our EEZ,” Herman said.
Closing the workshop, PM Brown spoke of the shared commitment of all stakeholders both international and local to environmental protection. “My government is committed to building a seabed minerals sector based on best principles and practices, supported by a strong legal framework, in harmony with our high environmental, social and cultural values.