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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has been an active participant in the negotiations for the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement, a global Treaty approved by the United Nations General Assembly in June 2023. This Treaty focuses on the sustainable use and management of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions.

CARICOM worked with other States and civil society organisations to achieve a successful outcome to the negotiations for the BBNJ Agreement. The Community, through varied efforts, has been a vocal leader and has successfully innovated, adapted, and pooled resources to remain relevant players throughout the ongoing negotiations.

The Community’s engagement throughout the negotiations was characterised by Active Participation, Collaboration and Unity, Promotion of Open Dialogue and a Focus on Sustainable Development.

To effectively manage our oceans and seas, a multi-stakeholder approach is needed. It is against this background that the Community looks forward to continuing this vital collaboration and partnership, as well as building new partnerships, as it moves towards the entry into force and implementation of this praiseworthy Agreement.

At present, 89 UN member countries have signed the Agreement, including six CARICOM Member States – Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, The Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Belize has since ratified the Treaty, becoming the first CARICOM Member State to do so. The BBNJ Agreement will enter into force when at least 60 countries ratify it.

To maintain active engagement, CARICOM Foreign Ministers at the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) mandated the formation of a Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (MSAG) to support and guide countries to ratification and early implementation of the Treaty. At the second MSAG workshop which brought together Treaty negotiators, representatives from the offices of Attorneys-General across the Region, and technical experts on oceans and biodiversity in April 2024 in Miami, Florida, CARICOM General Counsel, Lisa Shoman, called for enhanced dialogue to popularise the Treaty at the national level.  This workshop facilitated the finalization of a Regional Work Plan to get CARICOM Member States to the point of ratification while simultaneously raising awareness of the Treaty and its potential for blue economic growth amongst national stakeholders.

At the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the COFCOR held in Roseau, Dominica from 23-24 May 2024, CARICOM Foreign Ministers subsequently approved the Regional Workplan.

CARICOM’s active participation in the BBNJ negotiations demonstrates its commitment to marine biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. As the Community prepares for the first Conference of the Parties for the BBNJ Treaty, CARICOM’s role will undoubtedly be crucial in shaping the future of our oceans.

June 2024

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