grafika ilustracyjnaWe have concluded the 28th Session of the International Seabed Authority, during which the experts of the PGI-NRI worked on the preparation of regulations intended to enable the extraction of deep-sea mineral resources.

sala posiedzeń z ludźmi

Meeting room at the headquarters of the International Seabed Authority

In 2023, Polish experts participated in 3 parts of the 28th Session of the International Seabed Authority ( ISA), during which meetings were held by the Council and the Assembly. On behalf of the PGI-NRI, Agata Kozłowska-Roman and Michal Tomczak are actively involved in the ISA's work, and in the work on mining regulations.

The purpose of participation in the 28th Session was to take part in the negotiations of mining regulations in the Area (i.e. in international waters beyond state jurisdiction). The main topic of the meeting was the continuation of work, and negotiations on the provisions of mining regulations in the Area (the so-called Mining Code).

The Polish delegation worked in 4 working groups which dealt with specific sections of the regulations: the environmental group, the institutional group, the financial group and the inspection group, and the so-called 'President's text' was debated in the plenary.

kobieta przemawia do mikrofonu na sali obrad

Agata Kozłowska-Roman during the presentation of the Polish position on the Mining Code

The Council has made significant progress in its work on a comprehensive regulatory framework for mineral extraction in the Area, in particular towards the development of a consolidated negotiation text, which we intend to prepare by the end of this year.

The plenary also addressed the political and procedural issues concerning the work of the Council and the Organisation. Some of them concerned the debate on 'what if' scenarios in relation to the '2-year rule' included in the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), which had imposed an obligation to develop mining regulations by July 2023, as requested by the Kingdom of Nauru. The delegation participated in negotiations of the Council's draft decisions; it held several informal working discussions, and took part in some of the so-called side-events organised during breaks, or after the discussions.

As part of individual tasks in the working groups, the Polish delegation spoke about specific provisions of the environmental regulations, the financial regulations, the Council President's text, and the Mining Code. These comments were arranged within a team consisting of the PGI-NRI and the Ocean Research Team of the Ministry of Climate and Environment. Some of them concerned simplifying the text or clarifying or providing justification for the proposed changes (e.g. in the financial and environmental group).

dwóch mężczyzn rozmawia ze sobą na sali obrad

Michal Tomczak during his conversation with the Japanese delegate during Part III of the 28th Session of the ISA

During the plenary meetings of Part III of the 28th Session, new rules for the organisation of negotiations were discussed; Poland expressed its conviction that work on mining regulations should continue, as it is necessary to fulfil the commitment of the July Session of the Council, in order to be able to adopt the regulations during the 30th Session of the ISA in 2025 at the latest. Poland reiterated its position that, taking into account the provisions of the Law of the Sea Convention and the 1994 Agreement, the Council should continue its efforts to keep working on mining regulations. Therefore, Poland believes that mining activities can only be carried out after the introduction of the robust Rules, Regulations and Procedures of the Authority.

Poland stressed the need to further improve our knowledge of the seabed, the environment and the impact of mining activities on the ecosystem, while continuing to work on mining regulations, bearing in mind the obligations related to non-discrimination against contractors and the protection of the marine environment, so as to ensure the implementation of all the provisions of the Convention and the 1994 Agreement. Poland assured the President that it remains fully involved in the negotiations within the ISA, and it is in favour of continuing constructive cooperation and discussion on both the environmental issues and the fulfilment of the Organisation's mandate.

The formulation of a regulatory framework is a key element related to the establishment and functioning of the ISA, as enshrined in the 1994 Agreement. It is a task incumbent on the Organisation to fulfil its obligation to not only protect the marine environment, but also to ensure that the rights of all the States—Parties to the Convention—to take actions in this area are respected, with strict adherence to the rules, provisions and procedures of the ISA.

In closing, Council President Ambassador González Mijares highlighted the constructive work and commitment of the delegation to the deliberations of the 28th Session, and thanked the Council President for his support.

In view of the failure to conclude the debate on the regulations in time, it will be continued during the 29th Session of the ISA. At the same time, a significant intensification is observed in the ISA's work, especially during the intersessional period. Because of its interests in the Areas/the ownership of two licence plots in the Pacific and the Atlantic, Poland should be deeply involved in the negotiations in all groups. With the consent of Poland, the Council members have agreed that a consolidated text of the draft regulations would be prepared under the chairmanship of the Chair of the 28th Session with the technical support of the Secretariat, and it would be subjected to further streamlining of the regulations on the extraction of mineral resources in the Area during the first and second part of the 29th Session. The main objective of the consolidated text will be to structure the text on the basis of what has been agreed so far, and of the delegations' comments.