BSAC report on the BBNJ-CBD event by EBCD

BSAC report on: Unfolding the relation between the new High Seas Treaty (BBNJ) & the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Webinar, 9:45 AM – 11:30 AM Wednesday, July 5, 2023, attended online by the BSAC secretariat.

MEP Catherine Chabaud welcomed participants and looked forward to discussions on the BBNJ treaty. She also mentioned the recent discussions in the EU Parliament on the Nature Restoration Law.

After 20 years of negotiations a historical decision was made to regulate all activities in the ocean with the adoption of a new Agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). Few months earlier, the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a new plan for people and nature which sets targets to be achieved by 2030. These two important decisions are very closely related. The CBD, with its year-long expertise on genetic resources, Marine Protected Areas and Environmental Impact Assessments can support and inform future decisions adopted in the context of BBNJ, thus playing a key role in facilitating the implementation of the BBNJ Agreement. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework also sets targets for marine conservation that the implementation of the BBNJ treaty will help to achieve.

While a patchwork of international frameworks and bodies has been established in what can certainly be considered a victory for multilateralism, it remains unclear how these will interact and effectively cooperate, starting from the High Seas Treaty and the CBD. This event, organized under the umbrella of the European Parliament Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”, will explore the key outcomes of the above decisions and examine the interface between ocean governance and biodiversity. The event will bring together representatives from DG MARE and DG Environment as well as the CBD, FAO, and as examples, representatives from a Regional Seas Organization (OSPAR) and an RFMO (NEAFC).

The new High Seas Treaty – Aurore Maillet, EU Negotiator for the BBNJ treaty, DG MARE, European Commission

The BBNJ treaty is a major step forward.
What will the treaty do?

  1. It makes it possible to set up MPAs in the high seas with management plans: to be defined by the parties when they meet. It is possible to decide on them with a vote with a 3/4th majority.
    • Calls on consultation of stakeholders, local people, NGOs,… It is a consensus led process.
    • RFMOs, IMO, and other international organisations will be part of the conversation where relevant too.
  2. It includes provisions on sharing of genetic resources.
  3. It requires environmental impact assessment before having any significant activity at sea with standards and guidelines to be set.
  4. It allows for some capacity building and fund for developing countries

The treaty now needs ratification by 60 countries before taking effect. The ratification process will only start in September. The Commission will propose a joint ratification to the Council and the Parliament.

Intervention by Mery Ciacci, International Relations Officer – Access and Benefit Sharing under the Nagoya Protocol, DG ENV, European Commission

CBD COP15 and its conclusion: the Global Biodiversity Framework was delayed because of covid by about 2 years.

The CBD COP adopted the ambitious Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMF GBF). It is complemented by 5 important decisions on: Monitoring framework, Planning-reportingreview of implementation, Resources mobilisation, Sharing benefits from genetic resources, Capacity Building.

The objective is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and put nature on a path for recovery. By 2050, the vision is to live in harmony with nature. There are 4 outcome-oriented goals on conservation and restoration, sustainable use, benefit sharing, and means of implementation. The treaty also refers 23 action-oriented targets for 2030.

The Commission is now identifying opportunities and gaps between EU and national targets and the ones in the GBF.

For the BBNJ discussion, some targets are particularly relevant:

Target 3 -30×30: by 2030 at least 30% of […] marine and coastal areas, especially areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services are effectively conserved, managed through ecologically representative, well connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognition of indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable, and the rights of indigenous people and local communities. Other targets are also relevant when looking at both BBNJ and GBF: target 13 on benefit sharing, and relevant targets linked to Climate Change and ocean acidification.

The big challenge will also be to mobilise the private sector and reach the resource mobilisation targets.

The role of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Jihyun Lee, Director of Science, Society and Sustainable Futures Division, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity / UNEP

The speaker presented the work of the CBD. The links and commonalities between the BBNJ and CBD frameworks were presented. She referred to links between them regarding:

  • Access and benefit sharing
  • MPAs and OECMs
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Capacity building
  • Clearing house mechanism

The Sustainable Ocean Initiative was created at COP10 and still provides a platform for partnerships, specifically on capacity building. It also started a global dialogue between RFMOs and Regional Seas Conventions.

Synergies will help achieving the global goals of both treaties.

Well-managed fisheries in the High Seas – Dr. Manuel Barange, Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The speaker explained that conservation and sustainable use go hand in hand. Excluding human activities will not yield lasting solutions and therefore sustainable and effective fisheries management is critical.

When it comes to fisheries, the BBNJ is elevating global efforts to promote sustainable use of global biodiversity: It is a robust framework, strengthen capacities, it facilitates the establishment of areabased management measures as a cornerstone of the agreement. It also promotes technology transfer and drives progress towards the 2030 Agenda.

FAO can support the BBNJ treaty through its work on fisheries. Its role will include work on ocean governance, coordination and data collection. FAO will participate in the capacity building and management tools implementation (including MPAs and OECMs). Many FAO projects are relevant for the BBNJ treaty (Common Ocean Program, Nansen,…). FAO will push countries to ratify the treaty and coordinate work with RFMOs.

RFMOs and the new High Seas Treaty – Darius Campbell – North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission

The General Secretary of NEAFC reminded the roles of RFMO that also includes some conservation objectives for NEAFC.

98% of the NEAFC areas are under binding regulation on bottom protection measures.

NEAFC and OSPAR work under an MoU and the Collective Arrangement, harmonising measures.

NEAFC also already has Environmental Impact Assessment requirements when countries want to explore bottom fishing. It may need widening under BBNJ.

Regional Seas Conventions – OSPAR – Dominic Pattinson

The Executive Secretary of OSPAR presented the organisation. He highlighted that OSPAR also operated in areas beyond national jurisdiction which is not the case for all regional seas convention. OSPAR leads by example and can contribute very much to the implementation of the treaty. Many initiatives already exist and the BBNJ treaty will help working further towards the implementation of high seas MPAs and others.

Date Posted: July 5, 2023

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