Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu | Samoa Observer | 20 August 2017
Experimental deep-sea mining is on the agenda for a five-day National Focus Group Dialogue hosted by the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations (S.U.N.G.O.) which starts today.
But S.U.N.G.O. President, Roina Vavatau, believes Samoa needs to proceed with caution.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, the President of S.U.N.G.O said Samoa should not be easily enticed by the millions promised if they opt to support deep-sea mining activities.
“The money is very attractive however we have to consider the social impact of deep sea mining on us,” she said. “This is our livelihood, everyone depends on the ocean and if this deal comes to pass, what is going to happen to us.”
Mrs. Vavatau urges the public to come as one and voice the rejection of Samoa to be a part of deep-sea mining activities.
“Although the P.A.C.E.R Plus has been signed… however unless a total of eight Pacific countries do not sign on, there is no deep sea mining in our oceans.”
To be held at Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi conventional centre, the meeting will focus on disability; climate change; Sustainable Development Goals; Land Act and Laws and Deep Sea Mining.
“These topics will form the basis of dialogue throughout the week,” she said.
“Experts in these identified areas have been invited to provide information and guidance throughout the week to ensure participants are well informed in the approach to formulate Position Papers and Action Plans that S.U.N.G.O. will advocate on behalf of Samoa’s Civil Societies.”
The President invited members of the public so they can be informed about the conversations around the topics.
“There will be representatives from government agencies whose mandates deal with the issues discussed as stated earlier.”
According to Mrs. Vavatau, their main goal is to afford the public the opportunity to gain knowledge of the said topics.
“That way they can make informed decisions when they come across these issues.”
Last year, a World Bank report recommended that Pacific Island countries supporting or considering deep-sea mining activities proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to the ecosystem, and ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place as part of strong governance arrangements for this emerging industry.
The report says that Deep sea exploration of minerals and resources is increasing across the globe, but its short and long-term impacts on the environment, economy and society in general remain largely unknown, according to the report, Pacific Possible: Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential in Pacific Island Countries.
“Given the immense uncertainty, deep sea mining in Pacific Island countries should be approached with the highest degree of caution and transparency,” said Tijen Arin, Senior Environmental Economist and co-author of the paper.
“Work in this space is already progressing in many countries, and progress has been made in legislation, but strengthening and increasing institutional capacity still remains a significant challenge and therefore we recommend stronger regional cooperation in this area.”
Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have granted permits for deep-sea mining exploration, and the Cook Islands undertook a minerals exploration tender process.
So far, Papua New Guinea is the only country in the Pacific region to have granted a license for ocean floor mining.