Following a two-year delay as a result of COVID-19, the International community re-convened at UN Headquarters in New York this week to continue negotiations on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The current session is the Fourth Intergovernmental Conference (IGC4) on BBNJ which will conclude on 18 March, 2022
The proposed BBNJ instrument brings into sharp focus the need for a comprehensive and effective global framework to manage the rich and vulnerable biodiversity of the deep sea in an inclusive and equitable manner. Now more than ever there is heightened urgency to conclude the instrument this year in light of growing pressures posed by existing and emerging activities and human-induced impacts including fishing, mining, marine pollution, bioprospecting, climate change and ocean acidification; and the recognition that collective action is need to protect the global commons. The health of the ocean and with-it planetary sustainability are at stake.
CARICOM Member States supported by the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the University of the West Indies have been actively participating in the negotiations since the inception of the work to develop a robust effective and future proofed legal instrument.
CARICOM endeavors that the instrument will reflect regional priorities particularly for:
- more inclusive and participatory governance structures for ocean management under the new instrument,
- a fair and equitable access and benefit sharing regime for marine genetic resources as well as information and derivatives thereof,
- rigorous international consultative decision making processes for addressing environmental impact assessments, enabling strategic environmental assessments and establishing area based management tools for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity,
- an effective results oriented capacity building and transfer of marine technology framework that will enable CARICOM Member States participation in and implementation of the instrument
- provision of financial support to CARICOM Member States in this regard; and
- a robust monitoring and review and compliance mechanism
Prior to the convening of IGC4, the CARICOM Grouping with the support of Pew Charitable Trust and the High Seas Alliance convened the Fourth CARICOM Preparatory Workshop March 3-4, 2022. The Workshop served to strengthen CARICOM positions drawing on regional expertise and further informed by stakeholder priorities.
The CARICOM team will continue to meet throughout the two weeks to engage with regional experts [and stakeholders] to keep all abreast on progress with the different negotiating tracks and related regional priorities.
Top photo: On-line participants at the 4th CARICOM Preparatory BBNJ Workshop