It’s been just over a week since the global community made history with the new, long over due High Seas Treaty designed to protect life in our global ocean.
The High Seas make up almost half of our planet yet until now they have not been afforded any comprehensive protection against the increasing onslaught of human activity. With the climate and biodiversity crises worsening this treaty comes not a moment too soon. Among other provisions, The High Seas Treaty paves the way for the creation of protected areas at sea and will make it harder for ecocidal industries such as deep-sea mining in international waters to go ahead. However it will still take several years for this treaty to come in to force. We must push our leaders to ratify this new treaty swiftly and make it clear that any attempt to rush open the deep-sea to the reckless exploitation of minerals will undermine the treaty before it even gets underway.
Despite being such a dominant part of our biosphere, the High Seas are often overlooked. Much of my own work over these past 20 years has been dedicated to exposing destructive and unregulated practices on the High Seas, from fisheries to human rights abuse and now the looming disaster of deep-sea mining. Despite my and everyone else’s best efforts, it remains a difficult task to impress upon people the importance of the High Seas to every living being on Earth.
Since the negotiations formally began in 2018, I have used my platform to raise the significance of this treaty including the importance of lifting the feminine perspective* in these negotiations. I had the privilege to attend the treaty negotiations at the UN headquarters on two separate occasions: In 2019 for the third** meeting of governments for this treaty as well as these final negotiations.
It has taken almost two decades of campaigning by brilliant and passionate activists around the world to reach this momentous agreement. The outcome really is testimony of collective action. Not just of multilateralism by governments but also of coalitions of people and organisations everywhere fighting for a singular cause. These past few weeks have reminded me of how necessary it is to work together for a common goal. I am proud to say that Women4Oceans is a member of the High Seas Alliance (HSA).*** An alliance made up of some of the most excellent (and fun) minds in ocean governance. Change is possible when we work together.
Thank you to everyone who made the culmination of this treaty memorable. I am in awe of your brilliance and dedication. I look forward to working with you all to ensure this treaty translates into real protection on the water. - Farah Obaidullah
#highseastreaty #women4oceans #together4oceans #theoceanandus #ocean #conservation
Such a pleasure to meet this wonderful icon. Ms. Jane Fonda is a life-long activist who now works tirelessly to push the agenda on climate action. She was at the UN in New York to urge leaders to agree to a strong global ocean treaty. Without a healthy ocean we will not survive. The ocean is our greatest ally in the fight against climate change.
Ms. Fonda also called out the new assault to the oceans that is deep-sea mining. We simply cannot afford to let deep-sea mining in our global commons go ahead!
Join Women4Oceans in saying NO to deep-sea mining. Sign the petition! Over 200,000 people have signed!
Thank you Ms. Fonda for your continued activism and for always recognising your privilege to do so. 🙏🏽 - Farah Obaidullah
#women4oceans #together4oceans #theoceanandus #ocean #circulareconomy #energytransition
#getinspired #unitednations #highseas #worldleaders #janefonda
A big thanks to the High Seas Alliance and Greenpeace for making this evening possible.
Last month I had the honour of sharing my knowledge on the threats of deep-sea mining with the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg. I had never visited this rather prestigious branch of the European Union before so it was a privilege to be invited to speak.
Before embarking on my ocean-focused career, I was an environmental consultant. Among others I undertook environmental due diligence and compliance audits. I was registered with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), which is akin to being a chartered accountant but then for the world of environmental regulations. Needless to say I am very familiar with the rigour, accuracy and diligence required to do an audit and regulate activties. And it was this aspect of deep-sea mining that I tried to explore in more depth in my session.
If we allow deep-sea mining in international waters to go ahead, it will take place in an area that is outside the jurisdiction of any one nation (the High Seas). Deep-sea mining will be extremely difficult to regulate. Even if regulations are put in place how will operations in the deep-sea be audited? Deep-sea mining will happen at depths of up to 4-6 km. How will we enforce any regulations at such depths and what does accountability look like in practice in an area that isn't governed by any one country? As it stands deep-sea mining could happen as early as this year but it would be a mistake to rush the adoption of a mining code without fully understanding the limitations in terms of practical compliance. We also do not yet fully understand the long term impacts of deep-sea mining to our living planet, which is why hundreds of scientists are calling for a pause to this industry.
Moreover the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which would be the body regulating mining, only has a mandate for the seabed not the water column above it. But once the seabed is disturbed by heavy mining machinery, the impacts will be felt in the water column both vertically and laterally above the mining sites. Sediment plumes, possible toxic contamination and noise pollution will all impact an area of the Earth’s biosphere that does not fall under the auspices of the ISA.
A question I have been pondering is this. What mechanisms will the new UN treaty to protect biodiversity on the High Seas put in place to regulate, enforce and hold countries to account for the damage to life in the water column resulting from deep-sea mining? This new treaty will hopefully be finalised in the next couple of weeks at the UN in New York.
The High Seas make up almost half our planet. If we let mining in this area go ahead it has the potential to expand and impact huge swathes of the ocean. Once mining begins and different countries rush to extract minerals from the deep-sea it will be very difficult to stop. Is it really wise to leave the fate of the seabed - an essential part of Earth's living system to a single authority that does not fall under the auspices of something greater such as the United Nations? Moreover the ISA’s mandate does not factor in the climate and biodiversity crises, both of which stand to worsen if mining in this delicate and slow growing realm of the deep goes ahead. Is the ISA fit for purpose? The sensible thing to do as we grapple with these questions is to put in place a moratorium on deep-sea mining.
As someone who has been studying environmental systems for decades now, I firmly believe that we should not embark on a new form of ecocide*. We know that deep-sea mining will cause irreversible damage to the deep-sea, we know that it risks disturbing locked away carbon and we also know that we don’t need to mine the deep-sea to accelerate the transition economy.
- Farah Obaidullah, MSc, DIC, BSc (Hons) Imperial College London. Ocean Advocate & Founder Women4Oceans
<°((( (<>< ~ Notes~ ><>) )))°>
*Ecocide. There is a movement underway to get ecocide adopted as the fifth international crime under the Rome Statutes (the other crimes being war crimes, crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity and genocide). The legal definition for the purpose of the statute means unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts. Deep-sea mining fits this legal definition of Ecocide.
** What is the European Court of Auditors? The ECA acts as the European Union’s external auditor. Their mission is to carry out audit work to assess the economy, effectiveness, efficiency, legality and regularity of EU action to improve accountability, transparency and financial management. Through their work the ECA enhances citizens’ trust and responds effectively to current and future challenges facing the EU.
*** To learn more about deep-sea mining, what the risks are and how it is that mining can happen as early as this year, watch this short film: In Too Deep – The True Cost of Deep-Sea Mining.
**** To find out more about Farah including her newly released book: The Ocean and Us visit: farahobaidullah.com The Ocean and Us explores the different ways our lives interact with the ocean. It brings together the expertise of over 35 ocean specialists.
A handful of companies are rushing to open the deep-sea to mining. We know deep-sea mining will cause irreversible harm to deep-sea habitats and risks disturbing locked-away carbon. This video includes leaked footage from test mining in the Pacific in late 2022, revealing the damage deep-sea mining will have to life in the ocean. Scratching only the surface of the true cost this reckless industry will have if allowed to go ahead!
Share this video! Say no to deep-sea mining.
#theoceanandus #women4oceans #together4oceans #wecandobetter #circulareconomy #techforgood #nodeepseamining #ocean #leaked
As we wrap up the year I thought it would be good to share and celebrate our achievements of 2022, to reflect on some of the challenges we have had, and to start thinking about our goals for 2023.
- I submitted the manuscript for our book The Ocean and Us at the start of June. After over two years of bringing together and editing the book, it is finally with the publisher with a release date of January 17th (although, see challenges...). Thank you to all who contributed!
- We have a publicist for The Ocean and Us. Our book is a Popular Science title, and will be promoted universally through an experienced PR firm!
- I worked with a lovely and esteemed group of colleagues via the Stockholm Resilience Centre to envision scenarios for the future of the High Seas. This has culminated in a paper which will hopefully be published in 2023.
- The film In Too Deep (which I initiated and co-produced) for the DSCC received many accolades this year! It was the first film of its kind to talk about the threats of deep-sea mining.
- Together with the EU4Ocean Coalition (for which I am the campaign advisor) we launched the #MakeEUBlue Campaign.
- I / Women4Oceans was one of 4 NGOs invited to speak in the session on UNCLOS at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June. I chose to dedicate my intervention to the urgent need to stop deep-sea mining in its tracks.
-Women4Oceans is a part of two consortiums tendering for separate projects funded by the EU aimed at achieving gender equality and fair representation in the ocean space. We are hopeful that at least one of these projects will be awarded.
- My / W4O's work on deep-sea mining was recognised by EarthPercent, a foundation working with the music industry to support groups tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis. I am so thankful for their support!
- It was a tremendous challenge to get the manuscript for The Ocean and Us over the finish line. I am still anxious about the book. It has been over 7 months since submission and I had hoped that we would have a book to promote by the Holiday Season.
- More of a lesson. I need to get better at coming up for myself and ensuring that I am properly credited for the work that I do. It might sound trivial but recognition allows us to grow. (If you don't do it, no one else will do this for you).
- Whilst I consider myself to have a global network of friends and colleagues in the ocean space, I work on my own and this means it is a very lonely journey at times.
Goals: My thoughts aren't fully formed yet!
- I will continue campaigning on the dangers of deep-sea mining.
- I am going to think about where I want to take Women4Oceans next and how I can continue to lift people in the ocean space.
- I am going to try raise more funds for the work that we do. I wish more foundations would recognise that small groups and individuals can be very powerful agents of change. We are not bound by bureaucracy or internal dynamics. We are flexible and passionate. We get things done.
- I am going to try and fret less about the things I cannot control (like the climate crisis). I can only do what is in my own power to do.
Finally, whilst each year continues to bring more uncertainty in terms of the unfolding climate catastrophe, the accelerating loss of wildlife, and this year the war in Ukraine, energy crisis, and so much more... I am so grateful for every opportunity I have been given in 2022, both professionally and personally.
I hope 2023 will bring peace. I hope we move towards each other, take the time to listen to one another, and build more tolerance for our differences. If we don't, we will fail our planet, the beautiful beings that live here, and ourselves.
We are one people traveling on the same Ocean Planet.
See you in 2023!
The role of healthy oceans in our energy transition - Interview with energy sector
Season's Greetings! Here's a short interview I did at the ENLIT Europe energy conference earlier this month. It was a wonderful experience to engage with new audiences. One company I met with has already approached us to sign the pledge in support of a moratorium on deep-sea mining and committing not to source minerals from the deep-sea! Will your company be next? noseabedmining.org
Together we can stop a disaster from starting!
#women4oceans #together4oceans #theoceanandus #energytransition #circulareconomy #nodeepseamining
From the ENLIT website:
In an exclusive interview at Enlit Europe 2022, Pamela Largue speaks to Farah Obaidullah of Women4Oceans about the threats to our oceans, how to mitigate them and why the energy transition and blue economy work hand in hand.
According to Obaidullah, we cannot address the climate and energy issues without addressing the ocean issues and one of the biggest issues threatening the health of our oceans is deep sea mining.
Companies are looking to extract minerals required for the energy transition from 4-6km below the ocean floor.
The process will see the sea floor strip-mined for mineral nodules, destroying habitat and reintroducing stored carbon back into the atmosphere, potentially with dire consequences.
I am super excited and proud to announce our partnership with EarthPercent, a leading charity working to unleash the power of music in service of the planet.
Traditional philanthropy unfortunately travels in the same circles and it's been difficult to break that mould - even with an almost 20 year proven track record in ocean conservation. Thank you EarthPercent for seeing us and valuing our impact in the ocean space.
EarthPercent's support of my work with Women4Oceans will go towards protecting the ocean, a critical carbon sink, and us from the emerging threat of deep-sea mining.
Join us! We need you. Follow our work, sign up to our newsletter, support our work to protect the ocean and us! Together we can stop a disaster before it starts!
For the Ocean and Us - Farah Obaidullah
#unleashthepowerofmusic #women4oceans #together4oceans #theoceanandus
#earthpercent #ocean #philanthropy #daretobedifferent
Last week (30 November 2022) I spoke at the Enlit Europe energy conference in Frankfurt on why we should not mine the deep-sea and why we don’t need to!
Electric vehicle and tech companies already pledge their support for a moratorium on deep-sea mining (see here). It's now time for the energy sector to get vocal against deep-sea mining!
It was such a great experience to be immersed in discussions around energy security and the future of energy, and to be surrounded by people working in an entirely different field to my own! I learned a lot and the feedback from delegates was that they learned a lot too! We can't allow deep-sea mining to happen let alone go unnoticed!
I am also excited to work with filmmaker & investigative journalist Quentin Noirfalisse and his team to bring this issue to a wider audience!
Support our work! - Farah Obaidullah, Ocean Advocate & Founder Women4Oceans
#DefendTheDeep #Women4Oceans #Together4Oceans
You love your gadgets right? So do we! Where would we be without our phones, appliances and transport? But nobody wants a gadget or car, or use public transit that is tainted with ocean destruction!
Women4Oceans is campaigning to ensure that deep-sea mining isn’t allowed to go ahead, and that instead we have a green, clean and just transition away from fossil fuels.
With your help we can ensure that the transition economy does not come at the expense of the ocean and the very systems that sustain us! The good news is we don’t need minerals from the deep ocean. Many leading tech & EV companies are already showing the way.
We are a small yet high-impact global NGO. We do not have a department dedicated to fundraising. We rely on individual donations to help us deliver wins for the ocean. Please consider supporting our work.
#stayengaged #getinspired #women4oceans #together4oceans #theoceanandus #perspectivesmatter #electricrevolution #circulareconomy #protecttheoceans
European Maritime DAY 2022 Interview with Farah Obaidullah on #MakeEUBLUE, The Ocean and US, and MOre!
Ravenna, Italy, May 2022. Check out this interview with Farah Obaidullah, Founder of Women4Oceans and campaign consultant to the EU4Ocean Coalition. In this interview Farah discusses the #MakeEUBlue campaign, gender equality in the ocean space, and the upcoming book: The Ocean and Us, with Italian ocean advocate and T.V. presenter Mariasole Bianco.
#Getinspired #OceanLiteracy #EU4Ocean #Women4Oceans #Together4Oceans #TheOceanandUs