GESAMP Concludes Its 50th Annual Session Held at ISA Headquarters
The 50th annual session of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) concluded on September 22 at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.
Established in 1969 as an advisory body on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection for the United Nations (UN) System, GESAMP consists of 17 experts from a wide range of disciplines who undertake studies, analyses, and reviews of relevant topics for the protection of the marine environment.
GESAMP is sponsored by ten UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, including ISA. Representatives of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations (DOALOS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were in attendance, including the World Maritime University (WMU) as an observer.
The meeting was the opportunity to report on the progress of the different working groups and activities carried out since the last meeting of GESAMP held in September 2022 in London. A number of studies, reports and policy summaries have also been completed, and more are expected to be published by the end of the year. GESAMP members also received updates on other UN processes, including the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the UN regular process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment and the recent adoption of the BBNJ Agreement.
A key outcome of the meeting was an agreement to continue identifying the priority areas where GESAMP should focus its action by the different sponsoring organizations based on an independent evaluation of the work carried out by GESAMP.
The meeting was also the opportunity for the ISA Secretariat to present the latest progress and achievements in the implementation of the ISA Sustainable Seabed Knowledge Initiative in a side event.
Before closing the session, GESAMP adopted the report of the session and elected David Vousden and Wendy Watson-Wright to serve as Chair and Vice-Chair of GESAMP for the intersessional period and the 51st session.
Commenting on the 50th GESAMP session, Professor David Vousden, Chair of GESAMP, noted the valuable support the GESAMP members continue to give the various UN bodies responsible for ocean-related matters and marine environmental protection. He further noted the growing need for this independent scientific expertise to be available to the UN and its Member States, given the accelerating environmental and related socioeconomic concerns threatening the well-being of all peoples and countries and the natural world in which they live.
Mr. Arsenio Dominguez, Director of the Environmental Division at IMO and Administrative Chair of GESAMP, underscored the role of scientific expertise in the work of all sponsoring organizations and the productive relationship established with GESAMP over the years on matters pertaining to the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection. “All GESAMP members, scientists, are generously contributing to the work that we all do, and all of us are grateful for the support they provide to our respective work and mandate.”
Dr. Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, Chief of Staff and Head of Strategic Planning Unit at ISA, stated, “It was the first time that GESAMP held its annual meeting here at the ISA headquarters in Jamaica. This was a great opportunity to exchange on multiple issues, including the latest scientific progress and achievements made in the implementation of ISA’s mandate as assigned by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement and more particularly in relation to the implementation of the key strategic research priorities identified by all our Members in the Global Deep Sea Research agenda published in the form of the ISA Action Plan in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”