ISA-Philippines National Capacity Development Workshop on Deep-Sea Related Matters Opens in the Philippines
On October 9, 2023, the International Seabed Authority (ISA)-Philippines National Capacity Development Workshop on Deep-Sea Matters opened in Manila, the Philippines. The workshop is being jointly organized by ISA and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.
The workshop is taking place from October 9–11, 2023, bringing together over 80 government officials, experts, academics, and representatives from the private sector for capacity development sessions on selected topics of deep-sea related matters associated with prospecting, exploration, and exploitation activities. The workshop will also examine recommendations for future participation of the Philippines in matters related to the Area.
The workshop builds on the Pioneering Workshop for Development of Sustainable Seabed Policy workshop held in 2014, a subsequent workshop in 2017, and the December 2022 Consultation with Technical Experts, with a view to discuss updates and progress in the implementation of the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the work of ISA.
The workshop was opened by Ms. Maria Angela A. Ponce, Assistant Secretary, Maritime and Ocean Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs who delivered the opening remarks, followed by a message from Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations and to ISA. The Secretary-General of ISA, H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge and Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of the Philippines, Hon. Charles C. Jose delivered the opening addresses.
Opening the event, Ms. Ponce, Assistant Secretary, Maritime and Ocean Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs noted that, “the Department sincerely appreciates the support of ISA for partnering with the Philippines at the moment when all discussions on the oceans whether it is economic, security, environmental protection, sustainability or safety is of keen interest to the Filipino people. Given that interest, it may be useful to clarify what the International Seabed Authority’s mandate is, and to better appreciate the work that we will all be doing for the next three days, which we hope will be the foundation for more work that we will do beyond this first workshop.”
“Mindful that environmental conservation and sustainable management, marine scientific research, and benefit sharing along with capacity development and training initiatives are at the forefront of these interests, the Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office, in line with the State obligations of the Philippines as a State Party to UNCLOS, has initiated several discussions with regard to policy development for the deep seabed, including in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In 2014, we had the Pioneering Workshop for Development of Sustainable Seabed Policy workshop, a subsequent inter-agency workshop in 2017, and just last year in December 2022, we conducted a National Consultation with Technical Experts, with support from ISA. We are also deeply appreciative of ISA’s capacity building programs and activities, including for our Filipino scientists,” she added.
In his remarks, Ambassador Lagdameo stressed the importance attached by the Philippines to marine scientific research and capacity development. “Building capacities is essential to ensure the full and integrated participation of developing States in ISA’s work and to support its critical mandate under UNCLOS. This mandate has become even more relevant as we anticipate the entry into force of the Agreement under UNCLOS concerning the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, also known as the BBNJ Treaty. This Agreement recognizes the unique mandate of the ISA concerning the Area,” Ambassador said.
“In line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the Philippines is interested to support the implementation of ISA’s Action Plan to maximize its contribution to the UN Decade as well as the various initiatives and partnerships established to promote cooperation and coordinate marine scientific research efforts,” he added.
“As one of the original signatories to UNCLOS in 1982 and went on to ratify it in 1984, the Philippines has made an important contribution to the progressive development of international law. For a country that is so heavily reliant on ocean industries, including fishing and shipping, this robust history of participation in international treaties is not only fitting, but also highly commendable, as it demonstrates the Philippines’ commitment to the rule of law in the ocean and to international cooperation at all levels,” Secretary- General Lodge said.
Reflecting on the longstanding relationship established between ISA and the Philippines, Mr. Lodge recalled that, “The Philippines was an original member of ISA upon the entry into force of UNCLOS in November 1994. Since then, the Philippines has given strong but silent support to ISA and its institutions. Always present. Always ensuring that UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement are implemented correctly and in the right spirit.”
In his opening address, the Honorable Charles Jose, Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs underscored that, “the Philippines, as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia and the world, aims to increase production, expand industries, and improve infrastructure throughout the country. To support the energy needs of this expansion, the Philippines is aggressively promoting renewable or green energy. President Marcos Jr., during his last State of the Nation address, firmly believes that “renewable energy is the way forward.”
“Resources containing elements such as cobalt, manganese, copper, nickel and rare earth metals, which are crucial for the production of batteries, solar panels, and electric vehicles, are reportedly found in abundance on the seabed and ocean floor, most of which are beyond national jurisdictions, in the form of minerals that are unique to the deep ocean such as cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and polymetallic nodules,” Acting Secretary Jose added.
“The Philippines, as an archipelagic State, is entirely dependent on the sea and our state’s ecosystem is affected by changes in the larger ocean ecology. We are therefore committed to the conservation and sustainable management of the oceans and the seabed,” Acting Secretary Jose concluded.
The workshop will be an opportunity to further the understanding of potential benefits for different stakeholders in the Philippines to increase participation in activities undertaken in the Area, advance technical capacities and contribute to sustainable development.
Further information on the workshop is available here: https://www.isa.org.jm/events/isa-philippines- national-capacity-development-workshop-on-deep-sea-related-matters/