Story | 30 Jun, 2020

Building ambition for the High Seas Treaty: June IUCN webinar series. What did you miss?

The goal of the three sessions was for all to better understand the UN Treaty on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (the High Seas Treaty), to address potential points of divergence, and to build ambition for the Treaty.

This effort is aimed at keeping momentum going during the extended intersession period of the negotiations, imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overview and video recordings are available below. 

The IUCN and DOSI initial three-part series focused on the many different issues surrounding the conservation of marine biodiversity in the high seas, known as areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) - all in advance of the next round of negotiations, currently postponed. 

Webinar 1 dealt with marine genetic resources (MGR), which describes the rich diversity of marine life, adapted to deal with life from the sea floor to the surface of the ocean. Marine genetic research is fundamental for understanding marine systems, and therefore conserving and preserving biodiversity in the ocean. The discussions detailed MGR benefits to humanity, showing ways and means to share research discoveries and for nations to equally benefit from these resources and discoveries using examples from the Seychelles and South Africa.

Webinar 2 focused on the need for continuous and improving environmental impact assessments (EIA) on the high seas and the broader scope of strategic environmental assessments (SEA), necessary with the immense size and variations inherent with ABNJ. EIA is a UN-required element of the high seas treaty negotiations.

Webinar 3 concentrated on marine protected areas (MPA) and other area-based management tools (ABMT) to manage activities and conserve biodiversity in the high seas. One point was that traditional MPAs will need to evolve to the requirements of BBNJ.    Other ABMTs are also needed, including industry sector-based measures for shipping, mining, deep-sea fishing, and other sectors, to protect particularly sensitive sea areas or vulnerable marine ecosystems. Other examples were given of different measures able to protect species and ecosystems outside of MPAs.

The series will soon continue, building for the next round of negotiations

Webinar 4 is yet to come, and will cover the subjects of financial mechanisms, capacity building and institutional issues. Please stay informed of IUCN Marine and Polar Programme events through @IucnOcean social media. 

The series is co-hosted by IUCN and DOSI, sponsored and supported by the Swedish Government. Thanks also go to Marviva, Duke University, and the Sargasso Sea Commission.