Industry Urged to Join UNCLOS Conservation Discussions


Published Aug 29, 2016 7:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, a second committee meeting got underway to negotiate expansion of the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to include conservation and sustainable use of marine life in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

In its resolution 69/292 of June 2015, the U.N. General Assembly decided to develop an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the topic. Oceans regulate the climate and provide an incredible range of natural resources, nutritious food, and jobs that benefit billions of people, says U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. 

U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 states: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” and SDG 16 states: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

This week’s discussion is focused on:

• Marine genetic resources including questions of benefit sharing
• Area-based management tools including marine protected areas
• Environmental impact assessments
• Capacity-building and transfer of marine technology

Work began on specific new treaty elements in April this year, and the World Ocean Council (WOC) is providing a business community presence for the process to ensure that its results will be practical, implementable and encourage business involvement in conservation and sustainability.

The WOC organized the only industry-focused side event, in coordination with the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Shipping. 

The WOC has organized the UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition as a means for coordinated industry involvement. The coalition, along with the International Chamber of Commerce as co-organizer and the International Chamber of Shipping as chair, includes organizations such as Cruise Lines International Association, International Association of Geophysical Contractors, European Network of Maritime Clusters and Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation. Additional ocean industry organizations are invited and encouraged to participate.

There is still time for ocean industries to engage and have a voice in this critical ocean governance process that will affect business access and operations in the high seas for the foreseeable future by joining the WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition, says WOC. Industry involvement is critical and can help ensure that policies and regulations are developed with full and balanced information, are based on good science and risk assessment, are practical and implementable and engender the involvement and support of the ocean business community.

Ocean industries currently or potentially operating in the high seas and deep seabed are encouraged to get involved to ensure constructive, coordinated engagement in the development of the new legally binding UNCLOS agreement.

The BBNJ meetings will convene again twice in 2017, after which the U.N. General Assembly will review and adopt new Law of the Sea requirements.

An overview of the discussions held at the first meeting is available here.