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ISA Secretary-General Concludes Strategic Visit to Cameroon

ISA Secretary-General Concludes Strategic Visit to Cameroon

The Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, concluded a five-day visit to Cameroon on Tuesday, 21 May. The visit marked a significant stride in deepening cooperation between Cameroon and ISA on matters relating to ocean affairs and diplomacy in support of sustainable management of the Area and its resources.

As a special guest of H.E. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, on the occasion of the celebration of the 52nd National Unity Day celebrated on 20 May 2024, Secretary-General Lodge engaged in a series of high-level meetings and working sessions with senior government officials, industry leaders and local authorities aimed at furthering the cooperation between ISA and Cameroon as well as the African region at large.

Joining the Prime Minister of the Government of Cameroon, H.E. Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute for a working session with H.E. Mr. Pierre Hélé, Minister of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, H.E. Dr Taiga, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, H.E. Mr. Jean Ernest Masséna Ngallé Bibéhè, Minister of Transport and H.E. Mr. Fuh Calistus Gentry, Acting Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, the ISA Secretary-General welcomed the support expressed by the government for of the work of ISA and the unwavering support of Cameroon to protecting the integrity of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Secretary-General was invited to provide an overview of the progress made in the development of the draft regulations for the exploitation of minerals in the Area, including with respect to the provisions and mechanisms under consideration to ensure effective protection of the marine environment and the equitable sharing of benefits derived from deep-seabed mining. Particular emphasis was also placed on discussing the capacity development schemes and activities implemented by ISA, which could address the specific needs of Cameroon and facilitate the transfer of knowledge and a more integrated participation of its experts in activities carried out in the Area.

Reiterating Cameroon’s support to ISA and to a strong and vibrant multilateralism that responds meaningfully to the pressing issues raised by global ocean governance and energy security for African countries, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute noted that “Cameroon will continue to support the tremendous efforts of ISA in favor of greater development of human resources to strengthen the integrated participation of developing States in the activities carried out in the Area and the well-established and significantly relevant work of ISA, that has, over the years, played a unique and important role in the global governance of the oceans.”

“Cameroon’s expectations within the framework of its cooperation with ISA are very high. The focus placed on capacity-building as a first step is a starting point that will help fill the gap in understanding the complexity of global ocean governance and related issues,” Primer Minister Dion Ngute added.

The ISA Secretary-General also met with the Minister of External Relations, H.E. Mr. Lejeune Mbella Mbella and his Cabinet to discuss in more detail the importance of ISA for African countries and identification of areas of future cooperation.

“Your visit is a sign of the dynamism and strengthening of this dense and fruitful cooperation with Cameroon and Africa in general. The signing of the memorandum of understanding with the International Relations Institute of Cameroon will continue to promote the indispensable relevance of the law of the sea in the management of resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions and make it possible to support Africa’s commitment to the activities of ISA,” Minister Mbella Mbella said.

“Cameroonian diplomatic network is ready to offer its full support to strengthening the relationships and cooperation ties between ISA, the African Union Commission and African States,” Minister Mbella Mbella further added.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding with the International Relations Institute of Cameroon, establishing the African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy was a landmark development during the visit. This academy aims to become a center of excellence in ocean diplomacy and deep-sea governance, fostering expertise among diplomats from African states.

Secretary-General Lodge also visited the deep-water port of Kribi, where he observed the operational capabilities and discussed the port’s role in regional maritime logistics and its potential impact on sustainable ocean resource management. On this occasion, the ISA Secretary-General was also awarded the status of Honorary Citizen of the city of Kribi at a ceremony in front of local government representatives and traditional leaders.

Mr. Patrice Melom, General Manager of the Port of Kribi, welcomed the discussion and indicated his eagerness to further the cooperation with ISA. “We are looking forward to strengthening our cooperation with ISA to reinforce our capacities with specialized training in the field of the seabed along the coast of Kribi, as well as on collection and training in databases in the protection of the maritime environment,” he said.

Reflecting on the visit, Secretary-General Lodge expressed utmost gratitude and satisfaction with the outcomes, stating, “Our discussions have not only reinforced the existing ties but also opened new avenues for collaboration in key areas of ocean and environmental governance. The establishment of the African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy is a testament to our commitment to empowering African nations through enhanced capacity-building and education in deep-sea diplomacy.”

The Secretary-General’s visit underscores ISA’s dedication to supporting its Member States in the stewardship of the seabed resources for the benefit of humanity, aligning with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


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