At the Ocean Conference of the United Nations, Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director at Seas At Risk said: “Deep sea mining is not needed in a world which is committed to the sustainable consumption and production under Agenda 2030. Unless we stop and think, we risk squandering one of our most precious ecosystems, which has a vital role to play in the health of our planet, for an obsolete dream of boundless growth”.
Deep sea mining poses a serious threat to sustainability.
The deep sea is a fragile and vulnerable ecosystem, and the environmental impacts of deep sea mining risk to be significant, wide spread and lasting for thousands of years, if not forever. Contrasted to this, the socio- economic benefits (if any) are bound to be short lived. Huge gaps in scientific knowledge and the many uncertainties call for a strong precautionary approach, starting with a search for more sustainable alternatives.
Sustainable alternatives to deep-sea mining are available.
Reducing the demand for raw materials through better product design, sharing, re-use, repairing and recycling and development of new materials is key to the solution. As are changes in lifestyles. Every year in the EU, 100 million mobile phones go unused, less than 10% are recycled. This represents an enormous quantity of gold and other precious metals gone to waste. These figures indicate the huge potential of policies to increase resource efficiency world-wide.
Furthermore, a 2016 report has called into question the perceived need for deep-sea mining to fulfil the mineral demands of renewable energy. The analysis, by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sydney, found that a 100% transition towards renewable energy by 2050 can take place without having to source metals from the deep sea for renewable technology.
See the video at bottom of page.