Cognisant of the growing threats to biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), States at the United Nations are negotiating a treaty to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of this vast global commons. These negotiations provide a unique and timely opportunity to strengthen the management regime for the global ocean, building on the vision of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The treaty will cover a ‘package deal’ of issues: marine genetic resources (MGRs); area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs); environmental impact assessments (EIAs); and capacity building and technology transfer. In order to be effective, ambitious provisions are needed on each of these elements, including by addressing climate change and ensuring the protection of marine ecosystems. A fair and equitable treaty could further support conservation and sustainable use by strengthening existing management frameworks and providing global oversight, developing capacity, and placing science at the heart of decision making.

Key messages:

  • States at the United Nations are currently negotiating a treaty to conserve and sustainably manage marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • In order to safeguard ocean health, States and stakeholders should cooperate to conclude an ambitious, effective and equitable treaty with strong global oversight.
  • Negotiations are based on a ‘package deal’ of issues: marine genetic resources; area-based management tools; environmental impact assessments; and capacity building and technology transfer. It is crucial that States not only take strong action on these elements, but also include provisions that will future-proof the treaty.
  • The new treaty can build on the vision of the Law of the Sea Convention to strengthen the existing governance framework, protect marine biodiversity and place cooperation and science at the heart of the management regime for this vast global commons.
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