Create and Implement an Institutional and Legal Framework to Protect Habitats and Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

Rationale

© Atoll Ecosystem Project/Ministry of Housing & Environment
Baa Atoll biosphere reserve, Maldives.

Habitats and biodiversity that lie outside the jurisdiction of nations - referred to as BBNJ, increasingly require urgent attention. Technological change and the emergence of new economic opportunities such as deep sea mining, more intensive fishing in ABNJ, biogenetics, and deeper oil and gas drilling all increase risks to areas that historically were not under threat. The biodiversity and habitats in these areas have major value, but are generally not as well understood. Inadequate governance is likely to affect the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ. A process should be initiated, with a view to ensure that the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ effectively addresses those issues by identifying gaps and ways forward, including through the implementation of existing instruments and the possible development of a multilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Such a process could both provide crucial momentum to stimulate cooperation between existing international institutions that manage the marine environment, and resolve long-standing issues relating to the legal regime for establishment of protected areas in marine ABNJ.

Main objectives of the Proposal

1. Initiate a process towards the identification of gaps and ways forward, including through the implementation of existing instruments and the possible development of a multilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This process, including a possible implementing agreement would address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessments, capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.

2. Agree targets and a process for identification and protection of BBNJ, including implementation of Nagoya decisions (Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD COP 10) on marine biodiversity conservation.

3. Create institutional mechanisms for implementation, which should emphasise better coordination and cohesion among relevant intergovernmental organisations concerned with the marine environment, better implementation of existing instruments and should examine the need for designation of a lead UN agency.

Expected results

A globally consistent and universally applied governance framework for ABNJ, including an adequate institutional support, based on the precautionary principle and ecosystem approach that ensures the long term conservation and sustainable management of ABNJ marine biological diversity and marine ecosystems which leads to the greater protection of ABNJ.

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