Headline: The benefit sharing regime of the International Seabed Authority

Member states of the International Seabed Authority are working to adopt a comprehensive Mining Code this study aims to address the issues around benefits in relation to mining the Area in a holistic way. The initial chapter summarises the legal framework of the benefit sharing regime in the context of the Common Heritage of (Hu)mankind. Having established the legal basis, we look at the broader ethical considerations and developments which have led to the global commitment for "Transforming our World" towards sustainable development and economies, enshrined in the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. This provides a framework for policy recommendations on an inclusive benefit sharing regime that take also the precautionary principle fully into account. The next chapter provides a comprehensive economic analysis of mining in the Area in relation to benefits that may or may not accrue for distribution to mankind. The analysis is based on the concept of natural capital and thus an environmental economics approach that aims to fairly consider all forms of capital and the ecosystem services provided by the deep ocean. This offers a way to assess benefits and losses. By developing the idea of a net benefit for humanity as a precondition for mining, this approach allows decisions based on adequate criteria for the benefit sharing regime. The financial payment mechanism chapter looks at the work undertaken to date by the ISA through workshops and third-party contracts to deliver the payment mechanism for contractors to compensate mankind for losses in the Area. This chapter critically assesses the approach taken and proposes alternatives. To deliver a meaningful benefit sharing regime that is acceptable to a broad range of stakeholders requires not only that it reflects legal, societal, environmental and economic concerns but it also needs to be debated in an integrated and comprehensive way so that the results seem equitable and fair. The final chapter provides an introduction into scenario analysis as a mechanism that could be considered to get to such a common agreement.

Publication Year
Publication Type

Thiele, T., Singh, P., Christiansen, S., & von Pogrell, L.(2021). The benefit sharing regime of the International Seabed Authority. 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