Scheduled from July 24 – 28 in 2023, the Assembly meeting of the International Seabed Authority(ISA) holds the potential to grant commercial authorisation for deep-sea mining for the first time. Ahead of the meeting, the Global Financial Institutions Statement to Governments on Deep Seabed Mining, coordinated by the Finance for Biodiversity (FfB) Foundation, urges governments to protect the ocean and not proceed with deep seabed mining until the environmental, social and economic risks are comprehensively understood, and alternatives to deep-sea minerals have been fully explored.

The statement is supported by 36 financial institutions, representing over EUR 3.3 trillion of combined assets, that are committed to helping protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystems through their investment and finance activities.

What is deep-sea mining?

Deep-sea mining refers to the extraction of minerals from the ocean floor below 200 meters, which constitutes over 95% of the planet’s biosphere1. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, this practice is projected to disturb millions of tons of seafloor sediments annually, releasing carbon that has accumulated over millions of years into the oceanic carbon cycle.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an organisation that governs and regulates activities in the seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil beyond national jurisdiction.

Why is deep-sea mining a threat for our marine ecosystems?

There is a widespread concern in the scientific community regarding deep sea mining and the irreversible impact it could have on delicately balanced and sensitive, deep ocean ecosystems. Permitting extraction in this uncharted territory would not only destabilise fragile marine ecosystems but also undermine the very foundations of a circular ocean economy.

The general lack of knowledge concerning the potential benefits and harms associated with this industry exposes financial institutions to significant policy, regulatory, and reputational risks. Moreover, there remains considerable uncertainty surrounding the economic viability and outcomes of deep-sea mining.

“The assumption that deep-sea mining is a key solution for the provision of minerals required for the economic transition to meet climate change goals is heavily contested. Emerging research is already showing that more investment in the circular economy could be a more effective way to achieve the transition to a net-zero economy” the letter says.

Mirova’s commitment to the blue economy

Oceans play a crucial environmental and socio-economic role for the planet; regulating climates, providing natural resources, enabling international trade and ensuring livelihoods and food security for a substantial portion of the world’s population. According to the World Wildlife Fund, our oceans’ combined assets can be valued at over $24 trillion when including their direct financial outputs, such as fisheries’ products, with indirect services like carbon sequestration and enabling international transport or tourism. Uncontrolled human activities are putting the oceans’ health under threat, adversely affecting their biodiversity, their capacity to mitigate climate change and putting at risk many communities’ sources of income and food. This is especially the case in small island developing states and in the global south.

As part of our biodiversity roadmap, we are committed to allocate more capital to concrete projects on the ground that contribute to protecting and restoring Nature, through our Natural Capital platform that seeks to offer our clients the opportunity to combine financial returns with ecosystem preservation. One of the key areas in which our teams of experts are working on is the blue economy, destined to fund sustainable seafood supply chains, circular economy, conservation of marine and aquatic environments.

For Further Reading:
1 Source: Convention on Biological Diversity

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Natixis Investment Managers
Natixis Investment Managers is a subsidiary of Natixis.
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This communication is for information only and is intended for investment service providers or other Professional Clients. The analyses and opinions referenced herein represent the subjective views of the author as referenced unless stated otherwise and are subject to change. There can be no assurance that developments will transpire as may be forecasted in this material.

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