CARIBBEAN-CARICOM welcomes ocean biodiversity treaty

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The region’s Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiators Friday said the new international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction opens a new chapter for equity in the world’s ocean.

The Agreement was signed on March 4 following what the BBNJ said was a “marathon of intense, sometimes overnight negotiations.” The international Agreement provides for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The BBNJ said that almost two decades ago, small island developing states drew the international community’s attention to the governance gap for the ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction and the lack of a comprehensive regime to adequately regulate human activities in those areas.

“That gap posed a direct or indirect threat to the health of the marine environment, including marine biodiversity, with a knock on impacts for coastal nations and the planet. They also pointed to the inequitable use of these areas, which SIDS consider to be the common heritage of humankind.

“From 2004 to 2015, together with other developing countries and the support of nongovernmental organizations, the SIDS led efforts to make a case for a new treaty. By 2018, that case was filed, and an intergovernmental conference convened to adopt a first-ever ocean biodiversity treaty,” the BBNJ added.

It said that from the outset, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping demonstrated its leadership in the process with the region’s representatives serving in different roles from the phases of the Preparatory Committee that determined the elements of the treaty through to the five sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference that finalized the treaty itself.

“More importantly, its political leaders demonstrated the highest level of support for the conclusion of an ambitious framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, to enable equity and effectiveness.”

The BBNJ noted that ahead of the fifth intergovernmental conference, CARICOM leaders had, in a statement, declared their support for a fair and equitable benefit-sharing regime, including monetary and non-monetary benefits, for marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction and digital sequence information on marine genetic resources that ensures all humanity for generations to come will benefit from utilization of those resources and information.

They also called for an inclusive, transparent consultative process guided by science for the establishment of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas as well as a robust threshold and transparent process for the conduct of environmental impact assessments, with global oversight for activities that may be allowed and an agreed decision-making standard for activities that should not be permitted.

In addition, they urged additional funding arrangements for a liability mechanism, a practical framework of institutional arrangements that will support the provisions of the Agreement and ensure decision-making based on the best available scientific information.

They also said they wanted due recognition of the particular circumstances of SIDS as an operational principle of the Agreement.

“CARICOM welcomes the conclusion of the intergovernmental conference and the adoption of the ocean biodiversity treaty. It takes note with appreciation that the treaty’s provisions have met the region’s core objectives.

“Importantly, CARICOM recognizes that this new treaty lays a formidable foundation for the fair, equitable, and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“CARICOM will begin consideration of the next steps to become a party to the treaty and looks forward to the continued support of the international community in bringing the treaty into force and effect and promoting its universality,” the BBNJ added.

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