The fourth Intergovernmental Conference on a Treaty of the High Seas (the UNCLOS implementing agreement on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, known also as “BBNJ”) concluded its work on March 18, and an agreement on an ambitious, fair, effective agreement on the treaty is in sight. Such agreement will provide much needed protection to biodiversity in the ocean.
The EU and its Member States are in the lead, through the 46-countries strong BBNJ High Ambition Coalition, “protecting the oceans, time for action“ for the conclusion of an ambitious, fair and effective treaty in 2022.
At the ministerial meeting in the margins of the conference, Commissioner Sinkevičius reminded participants that the high seas comprised 95% of the ocean, provided invaluable ecological, economic, social and food security benefits to humanity and were in need of urgent protection.
Parties of the conference were able to make good progress on all the key issues on the agenda, including on the procedure to identify, establish and manage marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas, only 1% of which are protected today. The rules for conducting environmental impact assessments in the high seas, various aspects of marine scientific research and the collection and use of marine genetic resources, the need to support developing countries to implement the agreement, together with the needed institutional set-up, were also on the table.
The EU confirmed itself as the driving force in the negotiations, participating actively, and was often hailed as a “bridge builder” in the discussions.
In concluding the conference, the EU and its Member States have stressed the urgency to act to protect the ocean globally, and called for a fifth and final session to take place in August 2022.
- Publication date
- 21 March 2022
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries