Environmental Law

Oceans and Coasts

Oceans cover most of the planet, but marine biodiversity is among the least understood branches of science. There exist governance gaps over key marine ecosystems, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Marine wildlife

Marine Biodiversity

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."

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 in 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.

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. The Committee will meet at least twice in 2016 and twice in 2017. Its recommendations will be considered at an intergovernmental conference to be set up by the UNGA before the end of its 72nd session.

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 lydia.slobodian@iucn.org.


Matrix of Options: Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

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

Other publications

Marine Series No. 1
Marine Series No. 2
Marine Series No. 3
NEW Information Papers on Marine Genetic Resources

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