Sustainable use of marine biological diversity

Moving the intergovernmental negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction forward

This project is concerned with the intergovernmental negotiations on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, which are taking place under the auspices of the United Nations (also referred to as the BBNJ process). The process started in 2006, and is currently at the stage of an intergovernmental conference consisting of four sessions. The first session took place in 2018 and the three remaining sessions will take place between 2019 and 2020. The conference is mandated to negotiate the text of the instrument.

This Centre for Global Challenges research project organised an informal meeting in Utrecht in late 2019, between the third and fourth session of the conference. This kind of meeting facilitates the international negotiations, by discussing the controversial issues and by canvassing possible solutions in an informal setting. After the first session, it became clear that states remain highly divided on most key issues, and that substantial progress is necessary in order to come to a draft treaty with implications for global sustainability. The project will be partnered by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been involved with the ‘BBNJ process’ from the outset. 

Activities 2020

Informal meeting on participation in the governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction

The project participated in the organization of an informal meeting on the rights and obligations of coastal States and other States in the BBNJ Implementing Agreement, which was convened in Utrecht.  This informal meeting was an opportunity for over 30 negotiators from 25 different countries involved in the negotiations of the BBNJ Implementing agreement to discuss the specific issue of rights of adjacent costal States, in preparation for the last meeting of the intergovernmental conference to be held at the UN Headquarters in NY at the end of March 2020. This informal meeting was hosted in collaboration with the Netherlands  Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was opened by Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University. Alex Oude Elferink, director of NILOS, and Joanna Mossop of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand gave a presentation to the meeting in relation to the legal issues of relevance to considering the topic, while Erik Molenaar, deputy director of NILOS, moderated a part of the meeting.

Workshop on the negotiations of the BBNJ agreement

On 12 February 2020, the project was involved in organizing a workshop entitled “Negotiating an Agreement on the Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction”. This workshop aimed at informing master students and staff from the partner institutes of the project on the state of the BBNJ negotiations, as well as some issues related to the governance of BBNJ. Tom Diederen of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Thembile Joyini of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, as well as researchers from the partner institutes of the project, presented and discussed their views on the role of the law, institutional and governance aspects as well as equity considerations in the BBNJ process.