The region’s Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiators on Friday (March 10) said the new international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction opens a new chapter for equity in the world’s ocean.
The agreement was signed on March 4 following what the BBNJ said was a “marathon of intense, sometimes overnight, negotiations”.
This agreement provides for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The BBNJ said that, almost two decades ago, small island developing states drew the international community’s attention to the governance gap for the ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction and the lack of any comprehensive regime to adequately regulate human activities in those areas.
“That gap posed a direct or indirect threat to the health of the marine environment including marine biodiversity with knock-on impacts for coastal nations and the planet.
They also pointed to the inequitable use of these areas which SIDS consider to be the common heritage of humankind.
“From 2004 to 2015, together with other developing countries and the support of non-governmental organizations, the SIDS led efforts to make the case for a new treaty. By 2018, that case was filed and an intergovernmental conference convened with a view to adopt a first-ever ocean biodiversity treaty,” the BBNJ added.
It said that, from the outset, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping demonstrated its leadership in the process with the region’s representatives serving in different roles from the phases of the Preparatory Committee that determined the elements of the treaty, through to the five sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference that finalised the treaty itself.
“More importantly, its political leaders demonstrated the highest level of support for the conclusion of an ambitious framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to enabling equity and effectiveness.”
The BBNJ noted that ahead of the fifth intergovernmental conference, CARICOM leaders had in a statement declared their support for a fair and equitable benefit-sharing regime, including monetary and non-monetary benefits, for marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction and digital sequence information on marine genetic resources that ensure all humanity for generations to come will benefit from the utilisation of those resources and information.
They also called for an inclusive transparent consultative process guided by science for the establishment of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas as well as a robust threshold and transparent process for the conduct of environmental impact assessments, with global oversight for activities that may be allowed and an agreed decision-making standard for activities that should not be allowed.