ISA must implement Intergenerational Equity in Deep Sea Mining for Mankind as a whole

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The Future We Need
The Future We Need signed this petition

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) (the “Area”) and its resources, are the Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM). All rights in the resources of the Area are vested in mankind as a whole.  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. 

Deep Sea Mining is starting. The Authority is finalizing the terms of extraction, and how the mineral sale proceeds are to be utilized. As a part of humankind, we demand the Authority keep the intergenerational equity principle at the center of its thinking.

Intergenerational Equity is Foundational
Mineral resources in the Area are a shared inheritance. It is our duty to ensure future generations inherit at least as much as we did. If we conserve our inheritance, we may consume the income generated from it. If we consume a part of our inheritance, and every generation consumes a little bit, soon enough, nothing will be left.  

Principles of fair mining

1. Resources in the Area are vested in humankind as a whole. The Authority is merely acting on behalf of humankind as a whole (Common Heritage of Humankind).

2. As we have inherited the minerals, we must ensure future generations inherit either the deep sea minerals or their full value (Intergenerational Equity Principle).

3. If we extract and sell our deep sea mineral wealth, the explicit objective must be to achieve Zero Loss, i.e., the Authority must capture the full economic rent (sale price minus cost of extraction, cost including reasonable profit for extractor). Any loss is a loss to all of us and our future generations, and makes some rich. Unfair.

4. Like Norway, the entire mineral sale proceeds must be saved in a Future Generations Fund (the “Fund”), also a part of the Common Heritage of Humankind.  The Future Generations Fund could be passively invested in a global portfolio of low cost index tracking funds.

5. Only the real income of the Fund may be distributed, only as a Global Commons Dividend, equally to all as owners. Future generations would benefit from the dividend in their turn.

Safeguarding the Common Heritage of Humankind

6. The goal of the Authority must be to conserve the Common Heritage of Humankind. The Authority must treat the minerals, the mineral sale proceeds and the Fund as part of the Common Heritage of Humankind, not proprietary assets. Royalties and other sale proceeds must be treated as capital, not “revenue”.

7. Extraction must be capped to ensure availability of the mineral & the income from extraction over multiple generations. For the environment, we must create marine protected areas & impose area-wide caps on extraction under the Precautionary Principle. Damage must be fully compensated for under the Polluter Pays Principle.

8. The Authority must prepare comprehensive accounts for the Common Heritage of Humankind in the Area, separate from its own proprietary financial statements, according to the standards of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board.

9. As the minerals are some of our most valuable assets, the Authority must implement a cutting-edge control system. This includes a high security mineral supply chain system, best practices from outsourcing contracts, system auditors, a whistle blower reward and protection scheme, etc. 

10. Fit and proper tests (and Integrity due diligence more generally) is essential for all involved in managing our wealth, both insiders and outsiders. Known thieves cannot handle the wealth of humankind.

11. The people, as the real owners, should be empowered to satisfy themselves at any time that their children’s inheritance is protected. This requires radical transparency including open access to the public to all data (including the data feeds) in real time at no cost.

Implementing these principles would ensure that the deep sea mineral wealth of the Area, the Common Heritage of Humankind, will be managed for the benefit of humankind as a whole. It will build freer, just, and more equal and fraternal humankind. It will promote real equality among humans. It is moral, ethical, fair and right. It fulfills our duties to our future generations. It is in keeping with the SDGs. It is in keeping with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Economic results should be positive - no one argues Norway did poorly from saving the entire proceeds of North Sea oil in its fund. 

It is apparent we have little idea either about the value of the minerals in the Area, or the environmental resources & the damage extraction will have. 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 put 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.

Sign the demand letter on behalf of an organisation: https://forms.gle/eM4MFtHd2xNj5bgd9

Sponsored by

The Future We Need & Goa Foundation