Harmful marine extractives: Deep Sea Mining

Year published
Sustainability Integration Strategy

The deep sea contains many of the most pristine ecosystems on our planet and plays a crucial role in regulating the climate. Plans to mine this unique and complex area of our planet would create irreversible ecosystem and habitat loss, as well as permanently destroy invaluable carbon storage. 

Due to high levels of scientific uncertainty and potential devastating environmental impacts of deep-sea mineral extraction, many civil society groups including manufacturers and private organisations have voiced their concerns.  

In this critical context and as part of ongoing work on the sustainable financing of ocean-related sectors, UNEP FI has published a briefing paper, sending a clear message to its members and the wider finance community. In their current form, there is no foreseeable way in which the financing of deep-sea mining activities can be viewed as consistent with the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles. 

Discussing the significant reputational, regulatory, and operational risks associated with plans to mine the deep seabed of minerals, the paper addresses how financial institutions should respond to the deep-sea mining sector. It also lays out how financial institutions wishing to finance the extraction of necessary rare earths and metals could focus efforts on alternative strategies that would reduce the environmental footprint of terrestrial mining and support the transition toward a circular economy.

Other ocean finance resources:
Turning the Tide: with recommendations on seafood, shipping, marine renewable energy, coastal tourism and ports
Diving Deep: with recommendations on ocean pollution and coastal infrastructure
Recommended exclusions list: activities to exclude from financing due to their damaging impact on the ocean and high risk (derived from ‘Turning the Tide’)
Rising Tide: maps the ocean finance space and is a great introduction to those new to this topic
Harmful Marine Extractives: Dredging and marine aggregate extraction | Offshore oil and gas
Learn more:
Visit UNEP FI’s Sustainable Blue Finance website
Discover the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles