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"Oh, let's not allow individual exploitation." - Interview with deep sea mining expert Pradeep Singh.

Pradeep Singh is an expert on the topic of Deep Sea Mining. Already researching in this field for eight years, he was the perfect guest speaker for our ECOSOC Committee. It was an honor to welcome him from Potsdam, where he currently works for the Research Institute for Sustainability. 

Laura Slapa: What fascinates you about the Law of the Sea? And what raised your interest on the topic of Deep Sea Mining?

Pradeep Singh: That's a really good question. I think it all happened by accident. At least in my case. It was when I decided to further my education and to do a Master in international environmental law. So actually, I was more interested in environmental and climate law when I did my first Master’s degree in 2013 in the UK.  There I also took a course on the Law of the Sea. There I had two really good professors that were just so inspiring. That’s when I decided to focus on environmental protection. Looking at images and videos of the deep sea and the minerals just took me by surprise. Then decided to do my PhD research on these mineral resources, basically to understand how the protection of the marine environment works in the law of the sea and internationally.

Laura Slapa: What is your favorite thing about doing research and what tasks do you have to fulfill in your job? What are your favorite areas?

Pradeep Singh: My favourite area would be ocean governance protection. How states can work together to achieve a common goal. Would they be willing to put aside their individual interests to work together for a common purpose? I think that's what really inspires me in in the work that I do. To try to convince states that there is a win-win possibility. That everyone can be happy and we may just need to make small sacrifices in order for everyone to win. And that's another reason why I decided to look into deep seabed mining. Because of this common heritage of humankind principle, which was something that really amazed me about states agreeing like: Oh, let's not allow individual exploitation. Let's work together, create an intergovernmental process for this purpose. Let’s try and be a more collaborative society, rather than an individualistic nationalistic society in isolation and competition with each other. How we can collaborate and benefit, I think that's an important word. Benefit just means so much more than profit.

Laura Slapa: How is the experience of working at the Research Institute for Sustainability in Potsdam for you?

Pradeep Singh: Initially, I was there as a researcher, as a staff member. Then I was offered the position of a fellow, which is really amazing, because as a staff, you have a proper employment contract and you have things that you need to deliver. But as a fellow, you do have a lot of freedom with your research. Freedom with how you bring your work to policy makers and decision makers. I've been there since 2019. It’s a wonderful experience, a really good working space and environment.

Laura Slapa: How came that your path led you to Germany? What do you think about working here? 

Pradeep Singh: That's a really difficult question to answer. So very clearly the PhD brought me to Germany. So my background were legal systems. There are the common law system and the civil law system. Common law system, really following the British way of legal education and practice. I'm from Malaysia, born and educated there and I first practiced the Malaysian Law. Afterwards I went to the UK for my Masters and then to the US for a second Master’s degree. These are all strong common law countries and I decided if I were to further my education, I wanted to go to a jurisdiction with civil law. Since I already decided at that point in time that I wanted to focus on international law and the Law of the Sea, that led me to come to the Netherlands or to Germany.  The PhD program was really good. The one that I did in Bremen allowed me a lot of interdisciplinary research, as well as to communicate a lot with other scientists. It also had a component of a one year stay in New Zealand. That was the perfect option for me. So that's how I came to Bremen for the PhD. Then I decided to stay in Germany when the opportunity in Potsdam came up.

Laura Slapa: And between the two cities: Which one do you prefer: Bremen or Potsdam?

Pradeep Singh: I like them both. Bremen is very lively, open and inclusive. It feels like the city for the common person. And when you come to Potsdam, it does seem a little more elitist and posh in a sense. I do like it that there are a lot of parks, castles and things like that and it's also close to Berlin. There are a lot of things to do. It’s a great substitute or a great move. From Bremen to Potsdam or from Potsdam to Bremen. I would be happy in either city.


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