Deep sea mining and future generations

| 10th February 2020
Fish swimming in the sea
MaxPixel
Global campaign demands that waters beyond national jurisdictions are safeguarded for future generations.

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The Goa Foundation (GF) and The Future We Need (TFWN) have jointly launched a global campaign demanding the implementation of the intergenerational equity principle in deep sea mining in waters beyond national jurisdictions.

This principle would safeguard the access rights of future generations, in principle and in practice. 

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) declares that the area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (comprising the seabed, ocean floor and subsoil, excluding the water above - called the “Area” in short) and its resources are the Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM). All rights to the resources of the Area are thus vested in mankind as a whole.

Shared inheritance 

UNCLOS provides that activities in the Area shall be organized, carried out and controlled by the International Seabed Authority (the “Authority”) for the benefit of mankind as a whole, on whose behalf the Authority shall act.

The campaigners argue that mineral resources in the Area are a shared inheritance and it is a duty to ensure future generations inherit at least as much as we have.

They say that if we conserve our inheritance, we have the right to consume the income generated from it: however, if we consume a part of our inheritance – and every generation consumes a little bit – soon enough, nothing will be left.

Dr Claude Alvares, director of the Goa Foundation said: "We launched this campaign because this is a great opportunity for us to proactively protect the wealth of our future generations. Making sure the principle of Intergenerational Equity is at the core of any Deep Seabed Mining in the Area will guarantee this.

"For millennia, community property across the planet has been captured by a few through a variety of means. Any loss from the commons is effectively a per-head tax on every human being, while making a few individuals super-rich – an unfair redistribution.

"Future generations are deprived of their shared inheritance. We must ensure that this is not the future our children will inherit.”

Mining 

Deep Sea Mining is starting. The Goa Foundation (GF) says the International Seabed Authority is finalising the terms of extraction, and how the mineral sale proceeds are to be utilised. "As a part of humankind, we demand the Authority keep the intergenerational equity principle at the centre of its thinking.

"Since extraction is effectively the sale of the mineral wealth, intergenerational equity requires Zero Loss in value of the minerals extracted, saving the entire mineral sale proceeds in a Global Future Generations Fund and distributing only the real income of the fund as a Global Commons Dividend, equally to all humankind as a right of ownership.

"It is apparent that we have little idea either about the value of the minerals in the Area, or its environmental resources. We also have little idea of the damage extraction will ensure.

"If the Authority contracts to sell our wealth without knowing its value, we will almost certainly suffer a loss. On behalf of humankind, the Authority must place a moratorium on extraction until we have a far better understanding of the value of what we have inherited. Let us be the generation that changes the course of history, not the one that consumed the planet."

Support

Rahul Basu, member of The Future We Need, said: “Our movement has been fighting for the intergenerational equity principle to be foundational to civilization and our economy.

"Too often, our inherited wealth is stolen on the excuse that these essential principles have not been articulated in the policy and laws.

"Now we have an excellent opportunity for all humans alive to directly impact the way our shared inheritance of mineral wealth is used in the future. We hope the Authority does the right thing for the future of of all human beings and all living creatures.”

Individuals can sign on to the demand letter prepared by the Goa Foundation here. Organisations can sign on to the demand letter hereThe full demand letter can be read here. 

This Article 

This article is based on a press release from the Goa Foundation. 

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