WWF-Norway takes legal action against the Norwegian government

On Friday, it was formally decided to open Norwegian sea areas for deep seabed mining activities. WWF-Norway believes the decision was made based on a strategic impact assessment that does not meet the minimum requirements and is now notifying the government of our intention to pursue legal action against the government, unless the decision is reversed.

Oslo, Norway (18th April 2024)

Norway stands as one of the first countries globally to open areas for deep seabed mining, despite warnings from its own environmental agency, national and international research communities, and criticism from the EU and across the world.

"Norway's decision to proceed with opening vast ocean areas for destructive mining represents an unprecedented governance scandal. Never before have we seen a Norwegian government so blatantly disregard scientific advice and overlook the warnings from a united ocean research community," states Karoline Andaur, CEO of WWF-Norway.

WWF-Norway believes that the strategic impact assessment by the Ministry of Energy, upon which the Government’s opening decision is based, does not meet the minimum requirements set forth in the Subsea Minerals Act § 2-2, and therefore there is no legal basis for the opening decision. The same was also noted by the Norwegian Environment Agency in its public consultation response to the strategic impact assessment.

Furthermore, WWF-Norway believes the strategic impact assessment shows that the government does not have adequate knowledge about deep sea nature to assess the consequences of exploration and exploitation, neither on the environment, other industries, nor the Norwegian economy. The significant and numerous knowledge gaps fail to meet the legal minimum standards for a strategic impact assessment, forming the basis of WWF-Norway's lawsuit.

"If this decision is not contested, we accept that politicians can break the law and manage our resources blindly. This would establish a new and dangerous precedent for how impact assessments are conducted by both the current and future governments," says Andaur.


To date, 25 countries, including France, the UK, Mexico, and Denmark, have called for a precautionary pause, moratorium, or ban on deep seabed mining. The European Parliament and over 30 industry entities, such as Google, BMW, KLP, and Storebrand, are calling for a moratorium, in addition to over 800 marine scientists from 44 different countries.

The European Commission is advocating for a ban on deep seabed mining until gaps in scientific knowledge are properly filled and it can be demonstrated this activity has no harmful effects to the marine environment. Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank has excluded seabed minerals from its investment portfolio due to climate and nature impacts. Recently, an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that criticizes Norway's plan for deep seabed mining.

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