ACT NOW! | Pacific Network on Globalization | Social Empowerment and Education Program
Dr Russell Howarth, director of SOPAC Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has said in Rio De Janeiro, the precautionary principle needs to be re-interpreted so that rather than stopping any industrial activity where the negative environmental and social impacts are not known until further research is completed we should instead “…in any development where there are threats of serious harm to the marine environment, the lack of full scientific data shall not be used as a reason for postponing that development…”
“Dr. Howarth’s statement is a complete bastardization of the Precautionary Principal which is supposed to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk by stopping any development until further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.
“Experimental Seabed mining involves two major uncertainties. First, there are significant questions and unknowns about the mining technology, its efficacy, safety, and the impacts that may arise from the process. Second, the seabed environment is a unique and diverse realm that has not been extensively researched and is not well understood. Both of these uncertainties warrant unprecedented caution and attention before proceeding with full-scale development of experiment on seabed mining”.
SOPAC is being funded by the European Union to draft a Legislative Framework to facilitate experimental seabed mining that does not incorporate the precautionary approach, and instead advocates the use of adaptive management, or “learning by doing.”
“Dr Howarth is trying to over-turn the principles agreed by the international community in the original Rio Treaty 20 years ago”, says Chantelle Khan from the Social Empowerment and Education Program. “He is doing this to benefit the mining industry at the expense of Pacific people and our livelihoods”.