Celebrating 25 years since the formal establishment of the ISA, this side event was convened to inform on the ISA database (“DeepData”), which was publicly launched in July 2019 during the 25th session of the ISA Assembly. Participants discussed how the environmental information of DeepData, including the biodiversity data, can contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions (BBNJ), including through capacity-building and scientific partnerships. The event explored possible cooperative initiatives with scientific communities and other stakeholders, that could enhance deep sea biodiversity knowledge building on the work of ISA. It also considered opportunities that DeepData could create in the context of the BBNJ.
Opening the event, Co-Chair Alfonso Ascencio-Herrera, ISA Deputy Secretary-General, said the birth of the ISA represents “the collective efforts of humanity” that were initiated more than 50 years ago, to “set aside the resources of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction as the common heritage of mankind.” Likewise, he noted, the birth of the ISA database, DeepData, represents the collective efforts by the contractors, the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission and the ISA Secretariat, to enable the ISA connect its knowledge of the deep sea environment and its resources, for the benefit of all of humanity. With DeepData’s public launching, he added, the environmental data, including biodiversity information, can be accessed by the public around the world.
Co-Chair Kjell Kristian Egge, Norway, highlighted the need for better use and access to existing data, welcoming the ISA’s initiative to make this existing data available through DeepData. He invited participants to consider how the new database can be utilized to enhance cooperation on data collection and use.
Jihyun Lee, ISA Secretariat, explained that DeepData, in its current structure and contents, provides a repository of data and information submitted by 29 contractors as part of their annual reports on the exploration activities for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides, and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts. In terms of geographic coverage, she said, DeepData covers about 1% of the international seabed area (1.3 million sq km), which is under exploration contract. She added that, in terms of data coverage, DeepData covers geological data on mineral resources as well as environmental baseline and assessment data, with environmental data including biological, physical, and geochemical parameters of the marine ecosystems from the seafloor to the ocean surface.
Muriel Rabone, Natural History Museum of London, presented the “1000 species by 2030” initiative, which aims to provide: open access morphological and molecular reference data; morphological and molecular analysis on existing and new collections; and fully archived, published open access journals, and OBIS++, through partnerships with industry, academia, and the ISA, including through the DeepData database. The initiative will contribute to eDNA monitoring, she said.
Mehdi Remaoun, Algeria, highlighted the role of the ISA’s DeepData in capacity building for developing countries, including on data collection and mapping, as well on data analysis, managing, and sharing.
Denis Duclos, French Natural History Museum, noted that, in order to protect deep-sea biodiversity and the role of its ecosystems, the international community needs to foster research and collection of data to take the correct decisions for a respectful and sustainable use. He mentioned that institutions such as the French Natural History Museum could potentially contribute to the DeepData project through helping with data collection and use, as well as helping knowledge diffusion.
Lowri Griffiths, UK, highlighted the importance of DeepData in: ensuring accountability of deep sea activities; and capacity building and technology transfer. She said DeepData needs to ensure interoperability in order to enhance the usefulness of other existing databases, and also ensure that data is relevant and usable.
Youngdawang Moh, Marine Biodiversity Institute of Korea, noted that 80% of the life on earth is in oceans, yet the world only has knowledge on about 1% of it, thus DeepData could make an important contribution by expanding knowledge on marine biodiversity.
In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia, the need to ensure coherence with other existing databases and avoid duplication and fragmentation of funding for data collection.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ meeting coverage, provided web coverage from the side event on ISA DeepData: Sharing Biodiversity Knowledge for the Benefit of Humanity.
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Specific funding for IISD Reporting Services coverage of the side event on ISA DeepData: Sharing Biodiversity Knowledge for the Benefit of Humanity, has been provided by the ISA Secretariat