Deep seabed mining, a commitment by Etica Funds to protect our oceans

Mining from the deep seabeds. Etica Funds has always been committed to giving a voice to the issues relating to the protection and respect of biodiversity in the world of finance. Together with another 35 financial institutions managing over EUR 3.3 trillion in assets, it has signed the Global Financial Institutions Statement to Governments on Deep Seabed Mining.

The Investor Statement addressed to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) urges governments to protect oceans and halt mining in deep waters until the environmental, social and economic risks are comprehensively understood and alternatives to deep-sea minerals have been fully explored.

Mining extraction at sea, a danger to ecosystems

The annual meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was held in July 2023, when Member States on the Committee voted whether to allow international deep-sea mining extraction to go ahead or not.

As from 9 July, the process referring to deep-sea mining has been mired in legal uncertainty with the lapsing of the rule, which had stated that after two years, all applications for mining licences had to be taken into consideration for “provisional approval”.

The plea by Etica Funds and other signatories is in response to the concerns of the scientific community regarding the irreversible impact that mining could have on the delicate and sensitive ocean ecosystems. Allowing mining in this unexplored territory would in fact not only destabilise the fragile marine ecosystems, but would also undermine the basis for a circular ocean economy.

Estrazione mineraria dai fondali marini, Etica Sgr firma lo statement per bloccarli

Why has Etica Funds made this commitment

The depths of the ocean are one of the very few remaining uncontaminated ecosystems, and opening these up to exploitation without clear regulations would be highly dangerous. Recognising the loss of biodiversity as a risk factor is becoming more common, not only in relation to the environment but also at a financial level, because this represents a threat to entire sectors in our economy, and therefore something that we need to consider when deciding to invest in specific companies.

As Aldo Bonati, Stewardship and ESG Networks Manager at Etica confirmed: “The current climate situation demands that we are extremely cautious when making decisions about extracting minerals from ocean seabeds below 200 metres, which make up over 95% of the planet’s biosphere. In line with the commitment undertaken in 2020 by Etica in support of the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, we believe it is premature to start an activity that will have such a significant impact on the environment and climate.

Etica believes that solutions need to be found that make less use of resources, working to reduce consumption, increasing efficiency in the use of the materials we have available, from the perspective of a circular economy.

In July 2023, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) rejected granting any immediate permits to start mining, but has kept a legal loophole open that could make this possible in 2024. Etica Funds will therefore be keeping a close eye on this issue.”

Please read the following Legal Notes.

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