(Geneva) Switzerland, one of the world’s largest commodity trading centers, spoke out on Wednesday in favor of a moratorium on commercial exploitation of the international seabed area, whose immense mineral resources are attracting covetousness.
“The Federal Council has decided to take a position for a temporary moratorium on the commercial exploitation of the Zone”, explains the government in a press release.
He believes that this exploitation must be suspended “until better scientific knowledge of its effects is available and effective protection of the marine environment against its harmful effects can be guaranteed.” »
“Switzerland is sending an important signal for the protection of the oceans and their biodiversity”, welcomed the nature protection NGO WWF, as did the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has tweeted “Fantastic news on
This is the position that the Alpine country will defend at the 28th session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – a UN body – to be held in Kingston, Jamaica next July.
The ISA organizes and controls all activities related to mineral resources that are found in this part of the ocean, outside national jurisdictions.
The relevant “Area” is defined as the seabed and subsoil beyond the outer limits of the continental shelf.
The Area represents just over 50% of the entire seabed, said Michael Lodge, Secretary General of the ISA, which has 167 members plus the European Union.
The mineral wealth found in this area is fueling the appetites of States and private companies because of the crucial role they could play in the energy transition, but also to provide additional independence in terms of strategic supply.
But the Federal Council underlines the risks that the exploitation of these seabeds presents for the environment and the climate.
According to Switzerland, a majority of ISA member countries believe that no commercial mining in this international ocean area should take place without regulation.
But underlines the Council, “about fifteen countries so far have gone further and come out against any commercial exploitation of the Zone at this stage, with or without regulation”.
Switzerland is a stronghold for commodity trading. It is home to large companies like Glencore, active in coal, metals and oil, or like Vitol or Trafigura, domiciled in Singapore, but which has a large operational center in Geneva. With a net profit of 17.3 billion dollars in 2022, Glencore is a juggernaut in the brokerage of metals, such as copper, zinc, nickel or cobalt.