UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK – The final Session of the Intergovernmental Conference on an agreement 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 (BBNJ) concluded with an agreed text on 4 March 2023 after two weeks of intense negotiations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Ambassador Rena Lee, President of the Conference, announced the conclusion of the negotiations with a remark, “The ship has reached the shore.”
Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, lauded the conclusion of the negotiations. “As an archipelagic state situated in the center of marine biodiversity, the Philippines places high importance in the BBNJ Agreement, which sets a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; the sharing of benefits of marine genetic resources; and enhanced international cooperation,” he said.
“This is a milestone in the global efforts to address the unprecedented pressures facing the world’s oceans. The early ratification, entry into force, and effective implementation of the BBNJ Agreement should be a priority,” he further added.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, through his spokesperson, commended delegates for finalizing a text to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
“This breakthrough – which covers nearly two-thirds of the ocean -- marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work and builds on the legacy of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” He also noted that this is ‘a victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come’.
‘It is crucial for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. It is also vital for achieving ocean-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, he further added, commending all parties for their ‘ambition, flexibility and perseverance.’
Delegations worked overtime, and had marathon negotiating sessions until the Saturday to achieve a clean text of the BBNJ Agreement which will be formally adopted at a later date.
The Philippine delegation to the final IGC, led by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Oceans Affairs, Maria Angela A. Ponce, is composed of legal and technical experts from DFA, Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York.
The final text addressed the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011, namely the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.
In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text on the BBNJ. The fifth session of the Conference which was convened on 15 to 26 August 2022 was suspended to resume from 20 February to 3 March 2023.