Headline: Towards a standardised approach to Regional Environmental Management Plans in the Area

We are in the preparatory phase for a new industrial activity, the extraction of mineral-rich substrate from the seafloor in ‘the Area’, the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. Deep seabed mining, once it begins, is likely to cause large-scale and long-lasting environmental harm the scale of which is difficult to predict due to great unknowns as regards the deep-sea ecosystems and the novel technical designs. To comply with its legal mandate to take measures to ‘ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effect’ of permitted mining related activities the International Seabed Authority, ISA, is aiming at creating so-called Regional Environmenal Management Plans, REMPs, in those regions of the ocean where there is an interest in mining. These REMPs will be a sectoral management tool, however it offers the opportunity to implement and ecosystem approach to management, including the related strive for transparency, participation, adaptive management cycles, precautionary procedures and decision-making to ensure that the activities do not interfere with the integrity of the ocean ecosystems and their functioning. However, it remains as yet undecided whether REMPs will in fact become an effective governance tool with legal power to direct decisions on the approval of exploitation contracts and contractors´ environmental management plans, or whether it will remain an undertaking of limited value which will not enable the control over environmental impacts caused by mining activities. The study presented aims to contribute to this discussion by recommending a standard approach to the development and implementation of REMPs by ISA, covering the institutional setting, the procedural actions and the required contents, in line with best practice ecosystem approach to management.

Publication Year
Publication Type

Christiansen, S., & Singh, P.(2021). Towards a standardised approach to Regional Environmental Management Plans in the Area. Potsdam, Dessau-Roßlau: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Umweltbundesamt.

Staff involved
Projects involved
Ocean Governance Deep Seabed Mining - Test Mining and Fair Benefit Sharing