Story | 12 Jun, 2024

BBNJ Agreement for Ocean Conservation

On this World Ocean Day, we celebrate a pivotal achievement in ocean conservation: the adoption of a new legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to address governance gaps biodiversity protection in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) and the ongoing efforts by State Members to ratify it, aiming for it to come into effect in 2025.

The previous legal framework for ABNJ was fragmented and inadequate, failing to effectively establish and implement marine protected areas (MPAs) and manage activity monitoring. Recognizing this, UN Member States adopted a landmark treaty on June 19, 2023, after two decades of negotiations.

This new treaty enhances governance, conserves marine ecosystems, evaluates human impacts, facilitates technology transfer, builds capacity, and ensures equitable sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has played a key role in the BBNJ process from the beginning, offering knowledge products, expert workshops, and technical support. Supported by the Bloomberg Ocean Initiative and Arcadia, the IUCN Oceania Regional Office, in collaboration with the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, will assist five countries, including Fiji, in ratifying and implementing the BBNJ Agreement.

This initiative is part of a series of projects funded by a $10 million pledge from Bloomberg Philanthropies and nine other philanthropies. The goal is to provide developing nations with essential policy and technical resources, along with capacity-building assistance, to accelerate the ratification and early implementation of the new treaty and enhance their ability to collaboratively protect biodiversity in the world’s High Seas.

This effort, which supports Fiji’s commitment to sustainable ocean governance, aims to enhance Fiji’s marine conservation capacity, promote sustainable development, and strengthen international cooperation.

“This landmark treaty is a testament to what can be achieved through international cooperation and dedication to marine conservation.

“IUCN is committed to supporting countries in the Oceania region to implement this agreement, helping to secure a healthier and more resilient ocean for future generations,” says Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe-Tago, Regional Director of the IUCN Oceania Regional Office.

As we observe World Ocean Day, the BBNJ Agreement signifies a major leap towards a healthier ocean for future generations.

IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office is dedicated to supporting Pacific countries in ratifying the Treaty and promoting regional collaboration to advance marine conservation in Fiji and the wider Pacific region.