The negotiations for an international treaty on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) are now approaching the fourth and last session. During the third round of negotiations in New York City in August 2019, progress was made in advancing the draft text of the treaty. In particular, the diplomatic talks, which took place in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), verged toward four main topics: (1) Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of planned activities in the high seas; (2) Area-Based Managment Tools (ABMT), including MPAs; (3) Access and Benefit-Sharing of marine genetic resources; (4) Technology Transfer and Capacity Building.
The Fisheries Expert Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN-CEM-FEG), coordinated by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development, has been closely following BBNJ negotiations since they started in 2018. Lately, Serge Garcia, IUCN-CEM-FEG Chair, has been involved in a workshop on Area-Based Management Tools (ABMTs), including Marine Protected Areas and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OCEMs) in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
The last BBNJ negotiating session will take place in New York City, 23 March – 3 April 2020. IUCN-CEM-FEG also aims to participate as part of the IUCN delegation. The negotiations are forecasted to conclude with the adoption of the BBNJ treaty, and will largely affect decisions taken in other processes, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the UN Ocean Conference on SDG 14.