Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)

From the start of the BBNJ process, IUCN has been engaged towards the adoption of an ambitious treaty by enabling an informed decision-making process through the development of knowledge and expertise products, the facilitation of expert workshops and discussions, as well as decisions from its Membership.


At the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), States committed themselves "to address, on an urgent basis [...] the issue of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

Following a two-year Preparatory Committee process, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 72/249 (24 December 2017) to convene an intergovernmental conference (IGC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The first four sessions of the IGC took place in New York in September 2018, March/April 2019, August 2019, and March/April 2022. A fifth session is scheduled for August 2022.

IUCN is dedicated to supporting this process. In collaboration with different partners from around the world, IUCN has prepared a series of resources and tools for negotiators and others involved in the discussions. The resources address the four main elements of the instrument: 1) marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits; 2) measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; 3) environmental impact assessments; and 4) capacity building and the transfer of marine technology. They also address issues such as general principles, definitions, responsibility and compensation, and institutional and financial arrangements.

Through the development of resources, as well as engagement through workshops, capacity building and advice, IUCN aims to provide technical input to the ongoing BBNJ discussions and support the UN decision-making process.