Our Pacific Island Sponsors and the Law of the Sea
The UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ensures that the development of seabed mineral resources beyond national jurisdiction will benefit developing states, and not just wealthy countries. DeepGreen is proud to have three Pacific Small Island Developing States as sponsors for our deep-sea exploration. The role of sponsoring states is to ensure that contractors — companies like DeepGreen — conform with UNCLOS and the rules of the International Seabed Authority, which regulates activities on the ocean floor.
Nauru is the world’s smallest country, with a population of just over 12,000. An isolated, uplifted limestone island located in the South Pacific, it is fringed by a coral reef which acts as the island’s main defense from rising sea levels. Colonial exploitation of Nauru’s rich phosphate reserves created a legacy of environmental degradation that left the entire interior of the island uninhabitable and unsuitable for agriculture. As a result of this legacy Nauru is dedicated to ensuring that future extractive activities are done sustainably. Nauru is a party to UNCLOS and recognizes the important role of the ISA to put in place strict guidelines and protection measures before any extraction activities take place. Nauru is proud to be the first developing Sponsoring State and believes that polymetallic nodules offer an opportunity to diversify its economy and contribute to the transition to clean energy.
The Kingdom of Tonga, the only remaining monarchy in the Pacific, is ruled by his majesty King Tupou VI. Tonga is an archipelago of 176 islands in four clusters. The ‘Friendly Islands’ are located east of Australia with a population of roughly 100,000. Unlike many of its island neighbours, Tonga never experienced the impacts of colonial resource extraction. Tongan cultural roots are strong. Its economy is reliant on tourism and climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries. Like many PSIDS, Tonga’s groundwater supplies are tainted by salt-water intrusion from rising seas, threatening domestic agriculture. The government is exploring the possibility of responsibly collecting polymetallic nodules in the CCZ through Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd. (TOML), which DeepGreen acquired in early 2020. We are proud to partner with Tonga on its continued path of self-determined development.
The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced, Kiri-bass) lies in the Central Pacific Ocean, west of Hawaii, with a population of about 119,000 people. It is the largest atoll nation on Earth. The country has few natural resources and relies heavily on fishing license revenues from foreign fishing vessels and the export of copra from coconuts. Despite accounting for just 0.0002% of global CO2 emissions, Kiribati is heavily impacted by climate change and already two of its islands have disappeared into the sea. The nation is renowned for creating the world’s first large-scale marine protected area, The Phoenix Islands Protected Area. Kiribati hopes to enable the clean energy transition by contributing to critical mineral supply chains. We are proud to partner with Kiribati in this shared mission through the exploration of the country’s Marawa contract area.