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UN delegates reach agreement on protecting marine biodiversity in international waters

Delegates of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) have finalized a text to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, calling it a “breakthrough” after nearly two decades of talks.

Already being referred to as the “High Seas Treaty”, the legal framework would place 30% of the world’s oceans into protected areas, put more money into marine conservation, and covers access to and use of marine genetic resources.

Noting that the BBNJ decision builds on the legacy of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), UN Secretary-General António Guterres commended all parties for their ambition, flexibility and perseverance, and saluted Ambassador Rena Lee, of Singapore, for her leadership and dedication.

Delegations will reconvene later to adopt the text formally. The treaty still has to be ratified by the member states.

According to European Views, protected areas will be able to be determined with a three-quarters majority of the member states.

Another issue that had to be resolved was the potentially profitable research findings that may never become a reality. On this question, the countries of the so-called Global South wrestled primarily with the leading industrialized countries in the North. Since the most significant economies are also likely to receive the most expected returns, a mechanism for compensatory payments to poorer countries has been established.

According to information from the DPA news agency, the compromise that has been reached provides for annual lump sum payments by the industrialized countries.


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