Environmental Law

Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

Coryphaenoides armatus, a grenadier of the macrourid family

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."

In UNGA Resolution 69/292 of 19th June 2015, the UN General Assembly decided to create a Preparatory Committee to develop substantive recommendations on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument. On 24 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 72/249 to convene an Intergovernmental Conference. The Conference will consider the recommendations made by the Preparatory Committee during its four sessions. The first session of the Intergovernmental Conference took place in New York, from 4 to 17 September 2018. The second session will take place from 25 March to 5 April 2019 and the third session from 19 to 30 August 2019, also in New York.

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 on a potential international instrument on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). These resources include a series of policy briefs on different issues of scope, parameters and feasibility, as well as a matrix of different options, or building blocks, for a new instrument. 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, inter alia, general principles, definitions, 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 ABNJ discussions and support the UN decision-making process.

Please address correspondence and comments to [email protected].

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Matrix of Suggestions for a Marine Biodiversity Agreement 2015


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Relevant publications

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Envisioning its Application to Marine Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative. Policy Brief September 2018

Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction: Options for Underpinning a Strong Global BBNJ Agreement through Regional and Sectoral Governance
Gjerde, K., Boteler, B., Durussel, C., Rochette, J., Unger, S., Wright‚ G.
STRONG High Seas Project, 2018.

The Long and Winding road: negotiating a high seas treaty
Wright G., Rochette J., Gjerde K., Seeger I. (2018). IDDRI Study No.8/18

The Contributions of Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Approaches to SDGs and Targets
Fletcher, Ruth; Scrimgeour, Rachael; Friedrich, Laura; Fletcher, Steve and Griffin, Holly. UNEP-WCMC (2018). UN Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 205. 101 pp.

A review of area based planning tools: What is the potential for cross-sectoral planning in areas beyond national jurisdiction?
Scrimgeour, Rachael; Fletcher, Ruth; Martin, Juliette; and Fletcher, Steve. UNEP-WCMC (2018). 71 pp.

Marine Connectivity Across Jurisdictional Boundaries: An Introduction
Danks, Fiona; Fletcher, Ruth; McOwen, Chris; Scrimgeour, Rachael; Martin, Juliette; Thornton, Hazel; Tittensor, Derek; and Dunn, Daniel. UNEP-WCMC (2018). Cambridge (UK). 32 pp.

Implementation challenges of area-based management tools (ABMTs) for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)
Elizabeth M. De Santo (2018). Marine Policy Vol. 97, pp. 34-43

Mare Geneticum: Balancing Governance of Marine Genetic Resources in International Waters
The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law Vol. 33 No. 1 (2018)

Report of the workshop on Marine Protected Areas in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction
16-17 May 2018. Gland, Switzerland. IUCN

Developing area-based management tools in areas beyond national jurisdiction: possible scenarios for the Western Indian Ocean
Rochette J., Wright G. (2015). IDDRI, IUCN, FFEM

High seas fisheries: what role for a new international instrument?
Wright G., Rochette J., Blom L. et al. (2016). IDDRI Study No. 3/2016

Laying the Foundations for Management of a Seamount Beyond National Jurisdiction: A case study of the Walters Shoal in the South West Indian Ocean
Guduff S., Rochette J., Simard F. et al. (2018). IDDRI, IUCN, FFEM

Advancing marine biodiversity protection through regional fisheries management: a review of bottom fisheries closures in areas beyond national jurisdiction
Wright G., Ardron J., Gjerde K. et al. (2015). Marine Policy Vol. 61, pp.134-148

Empowering high seas governance with satellite vessel tracking data
Dunn D., Jablonicky C., Ortuno C. et al. (2018). Fish and Fisheries 04/2018

Designing criteria suites to identify discrete and networked sites of high value across manifestations of biodiversity, Biodiversity and Conservation (2011) 20: 3363


Other publications

Information Papers on Marine Genetic Resources

Marine Series No. 2
Marine Series No. 3


Policy Briefs

Paper I:       Introduction on Scope Parameters and Feasibility

Paper II:      Enhancing Cooperation and Coordination

Paper III:     Options and approaches for access and benefit- sharing

Paper IV:     Governance principles

Paper V:      Understanding ABMT and MPA

Paper VI:     Options and approaches for establishing and managing Marine  Protected Areas

Paper VII:    Relation between EIA SEA and marine spatial planning

Paper VIII:   Options for environmental impact assessment elements

Paper IX:     Technology transfer and capacity building

Paper X:      Existing regularory institutional and governance gaps

Paper XI:     Basic ideas for a possible institutional structure

Paper XII:    International procedures to ensure science-based decision-making

Paper XIII:   Compliance and verification mechanisms

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