Moana Nui rejects IMF and SOPAC approach on experimental seabed mining

Source: PNG Mine Watch

Moana Nui submission to the 13-16 May 2014 Pacific ACP States 5th Regional Training Workshop Organised in Partnership with IMF (Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre): Financial Aspects of DSM being held in Rarotonga.

Arnie Saiki: Coordinator-Moana Nui Action Alliance

Upon reading SOPAC's Pacific-ACP States Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation, the foreward reads: "Pacific people have a shared responsibility to protect and preserve the health of the Pacific Ocean, and this must be at the forefront of the national, regional and global agendas."

Pacific people do share the responsibility of our region, as we define ourselves as the stewards of the ocean as well as of its land and resources. Collectively, Pacific people are the rightsholders of this place with a deep ecological understanding that is interwoven with our histories, language, mythologies and identities. This deep affinity has not always provided us with the determination to monetize and capitalize on our resources, but it has provided us with the will to self-determination; to protect and decide upon our regional biodiversity with the participation of our local communities.

Policy advisers to Pacific Island governments do not always privilege our biodiversity above financialization and economic development, but for a people whose traditional livelihood have depended upon our ocean resources, we have sought amenable ways to both participate in the globalized world while maintaining our traditional and customary economies that are intrinsic to our regional biodiversity. As rightholders, it is important that Pacific people (not merely government and institutions) have a prominent voice in the decision-making process concerning seabed mining and other indigenous resources.

We are people who depend on the breeding grounds and migration of fish, seabirds and other ocean life; the sustainability of our reefs; the health, access and viability our lands, waters and cultural properties; and have generally adopted the precautionary principle as a means to assert not only rule-based or regulatory authorities, but moratoria as well.

We believe that seabed mining, like other extractive industries in the Pacific, create deep tensions in our island communities, tensions that breed divisiveness and disrupts social cohesion. When we talk about devising a roadmap towards developing a "regional legislative and regulatory framework for deep sea minerals exploration and exploitation," we also have to include well-being indicators in the community. These indicators, such as what Vanuatu has taken the lead on, adjusts statistical information to provide a more rounded indication of our well-being, and moves us away from definitions of poverty that the World Bank has been using to create a sense of insecurity among many of our low-income island States.

As we look towards 2020, beyond the 2015 post-development agenda, we need to take a broader view of the role the Pacific plays and begin to analyze the benefits and disadvantages of agreements between individual Pacific Island States and DSM industries. We anticipate that once emerging and developing economies agree to privatization partnership strategies, that the enforcement of climate initiatives will not benefit the most impacted countries. We are concerned that structural economic revisions in national accounting, taxation, investment and trade between larger dominant economies-- particularly ones that include privatization and investor rights over our land, water and resources-- will not benefit the region on terms that Pacific people would find equitable.

As the IMF surveys the multilateral macro-financial land/seascape that they will play in financing DSM, we anticipate that there are future risk projections that are contained in the IMF's analysis concerning environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. A question that Pacific Island States should be asking is how degradation and depletion will be accounted for in 2020, and how dominant economies will account for the privatization of resources through R&D, including the risk and insurance on future anticipated profits.

If Pacific Island States can withhold further agreements until there is a greater understanding of how the 2015 post-development agenda streamline investment rights and trade in developing countries, then we can develop greater tools to analyze the ecological and economic impact that DSM will have on Pacific people and our biodiversity. The IMF assessment of DSM should begin to include projections that fund independent initiatives that considers the proper indigenous rightsholders.

Additionally, anticipating conceptual frameworks interweaving ecological and economic data, the IMF's surveillance of the legal, environmental and economic data should include a Peoples' compact, one that raises the normative recognition of free, prior and informed consent, with the consent process located not with States or the mineral and mining consortium, but with processes inherent in traditional and customary structures.

I want to recommend that the IMF fund a regional independent agency that will address many of the shortcomings that State or industry sponsored data would report, and sponsor to raise the recognition of free, prior and informed consent as originally conceived in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples so that it can be included in the IMF's "hierarchy" of obligations. As long as there is a conceptual legal framework being devised for future consideration, I think it is of paramount importance that the IMF fund some kind of People's agency that could help to provide legitimacy to meet the IMF obligations of oversight of the world's economy.