Regulatory and Governance Framework for an Emerging Ocean Industry
The Seabed Mining Program focuses on the regulatory and governance framework for an emerging ocean industry: mining the deep seabed for minerals, such as copper and manganese. This emerging industry raises several equity questions, including who stands to benefit, who would shoulder the environmental, social, cultural, and economic burdens, and who gets a say in the decision-making around seabed mining.
The international seabed is designated as the “common heritage of humankind” and must be managed for the benefit of all. With this legal status in mind, the Seabed Mining Program collaborates with governments, civil society organisations, industry, and academia to work towards an inclusive, transparent, and robust management of the seabed.
Deep-seabed mining in the Area is regulated by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which is mandated to act on behalf of humankind as a whole. Consistent with international environmental law and human rights norms, in its decision making the ISA is expected to engage with its broad constituency. Using ten assessment criteria, this paper analyses the extent to which the ISA has facilitated public participation to date.
The establishment of thresholds is integral to environmental management. This paper introduces the use of thresholds in the context of deep-seabed mining, a nascent industry for which an exploitation regime of regulations, standards and guidelines is still in the process of being developed, and for which the roles and values of thresholds have yet to be finalised.