Delegates Say New Marine Biodiversity Treaty Must Respect Jurisdiction of Coastal States over Their Continental Shelf, as Intergovernmental Conference Continues

The intergovernmental conference to draft the first ever treaty to conserve and protect marine diversity on the high seas concluded its general discussions today before moving to informal negotiations on the text, with speakers calling for a universal, inclusive text that is careful not to jeopardize existing frameworks.

Several delegations underscored that a legally binding global agreement must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The new legal instrument must respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal States over their continental shelf.

Regarding possible overlapping jurisdiction, the representative of Indonesia said that he believes the conference can move the debate forward and consider possible middle ground. Reconciling interests between States with opposite views in ocean affairs, while challenging, is not impossible.

Mexico's representative said the conference's success will depend on the commitment and availability of all partners involved. Language of the new international instrument must ensure that developing countries have a seat at the table in future discussions on protecting oceans. We bear a shared responsibility for which the planet itself will hold us accountable, he added.

Colombia's delegate also emphasized the importance of including myriad voices in discussions, adding however that participation in the current conference must not be mistaken as a change in a State's established position regarding the Convention on the Law of the Sea. If a State is not party to that treaty, its contribution should still be welcomed in current negotiations.

The representative of the United States said that a new text must be consistent with the existing law of the sea regime and not undermine existing instruments and bodies. He went on to express concern about the successful negotiation of a benefit sharing regime, which must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and remain consistent with existing intellectual property regimes. The conference must not negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to a majority while leaving States with key interests out of the picture.

Cameroon's representative said the new instrument must complement existing documents in this area as well as ensure that the marine environment remains for future generations. We must work constructively to achieve a robust and universally acceptable agreement to guarantee the health of the oceans and a future for us all, he added.

The representative of Sri Lanka said that his country greatly depends on oceans for its very survival. Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology is essential in that regard, he said, calling for a practical and workable mechanism to ensure effective technology transfer to least developed and developing countries. We must learn from our past experiences, our pitfalls and drawbacks, he said.

In the afternoon, the conference suspended its plenary to begin discussions, starting with capacity building and transfer of marine technology. Several delegates made the case for the new legal instrument to clearly spell out the capacity building obligations of States parties, with some saying it should build on relevant provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The current session of the conference is the first in a series, with the second and third to take place in 2019 and the fourth and last planned for the first half of 2020.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mozambique, Honduras, Tonga, India, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, Eritrea, El Salvador, Japan, Sudan and Guinea.

Delivering statements were the representatives from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Seabed Authority, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

The following non governmental organizations also participated: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, International Coastal and Ocean Organization, International Council of Environmental Law, High Seas Alliance and Ocean Care.

The intergovernmental conference will meet again on Thursday, 6 September at 10 a.m. to continue its work.

General Exchange of Views

Mr. KALAKE (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction is a twenty first century issue that requires a constructive approach by the international community. The new legal instrument should respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal States over their continental shelf, including beyond 200 nautical miles. With regard to possible overlapping jurisdiction, he said he believes the conference can move the debate forward and consider possible middle ground, such as in the form of a sui generis regime. He went on to say that reconciling interests between States with opposite views in ocean affairs, while challenging, is not impossible. He added that the legal instrument should be concluded as soon as possible, for the longer we wait, the more lacuna exist.

ANTA�NIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, noted his country's location alongside the Mozambique Channel, which contains abundant biodiversity and mineral resources, in addition to being an important route for commercial navigation. That led his delegation to believe that an ecosystems approach should not be overlooked in the proposed new instrument. He added that capacity building and technology transfer are key to enabling developing countries to fully maximize the opportunities and benefits that the world's oceans can offer.

Mr. SANDOVAL (Mexico) said the moment has come to move from procedural discussions to substantive ones. Success will depend on the commitment and availability of all partners involved. Mexico, a mega diverse country with thousands of miles of coastline, will continue to play a highly active role in discussions. He emphasized that the new instrument must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and also careful not to jeopardize existing frameworks. The language of the new international instrument must ensure that developing countries have a seat at the table in future discussions on protecting oceans. We bear a shared responsibility for which the planet itself will hold us accountable, he added.

Ms. SOLANO (Colombia), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her delegation trusts that having a conference open to all States will lead to a well balanced text. Participation in the current conference must not be mistaken as a change in a State's established position regarding the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. If a State is not party to that treaty, its contribution should still be welcomed in current negotiations. The new instrument must be universal and respond to the multidimensional challenges faced by mankind. She underscored the importance of including the concept of equitable benefit sharing. Colombia stands ready to reach an ambitious, inclusive and cooperative instrument.

Mr. RIVERA (Honduras), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the outcome of the intergovernmental conference should be consensual. Members States have a responsibility to review and bridge any gaps, particularly with regard to risk, using scientific information and with the cooperation of all States. The common goal is the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction for future generations. He emphasized that his country will cooperate with others to achieve an outcome that is objective, substantive and constructive.

VILIAMI VA'INGA TONE (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and Pacific small island developing States, said that the convening of the first session of the intergovernmental conference provides a significant milestone for his country. Together as custodians of this one entire planet and its one ocean, it is ever necessary for us to ensure we carry out our common responsibility, he added. Stressing the importance of ensuring that all countries have a fair and equitable say in the management of oceans and seas, he said that all people have a common interest in the preservation of its resources. An all hands on deck approach is the only way forward to reaching an international instrument.

Mr. BLOOM (United States) expressed support for the sustainable use and management of the world's oceans and their resources, stating that a healthy and productive marine environment is fundamental for support to the blue economy. The United States is hopeful that the conference can make progress, leading to a meaningful and science based agreement that promotes ocean research and development for the benefit of all. Such a text must be consistent with the existing law of the sea regime and not undermine existing instruments and bodies. He added that his delegation welcomes discussions on area based management and environmental impact assessments. The difficult question is how that can be done in a meaningful way, without undermining existing instruments, frameworks and bodies.

He went on to express concern about the successful negotiation of a benefit sharing regime, which must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and remain consistent with existing intellectual property regimes. He added that the conference must not negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to a majority while leaving States with key interests out of the picture. The session must focus its work on specific textual proposals, negotiated line by line, resulting in a balanced agreement.

Mr. NARAYANANE (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said there is a dire need to conclude an international legally binding agreement immediately in order to establish clarity and guidance for accessing marine resources in areas outside national jurisdiction. The use of marine resources must be transparent, thus making conservation efforts feasible, he said, adding that the outcome of the conference should be fully consistent with the Convention on the Law of the Sea without undermining existing bodies.

Ms. OZTOP (Turkey) welcomed the comprehensive aid to discussion paper which provides a sound basis for future deliberations. Turkey's participation in the negotiations, which may result in a legally binding instrument, cannot be construed as a change in the established position of Turkey regarding the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Indeed, Turkey is not a party to the Convention and is also of the opinion that the instrument is neither universal nor has a unified character. We also believe that it is not the only legal framework that regulates all activities in the oceans and seas, she added.

Ms. OTARU (United Republic of Tanzania), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, welcomed current discussions and looked forward to Member States joining forces to come up with a new comprehensive global legally binding instrument. She expressed hope that the new instrument will include the important principle of benefit sharing as enshrined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. She also assured her country's political will for productive discussions with the aim of a successful conclusion.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that the sound management of the biological resources of the areas beyond national jurisdiction is critical for his region. Hence the development of an internationally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is fully supported by his delegation. While the situation in his region is increasingly challenging, he said Nigeria remains hopeful that delegations will reach an agreement on ways to mitigate or eliminate poor conservation practices. A new legally binding instrument should in no way undermine the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he added.

Mr. MOHAMMED (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the status quo is not a viable option. Any delay in reaching an agreement means compounding existing threats. Despite the common perception that the high seas are too remote, strong scientific evidence indicates that the oceans are a highly interconnected ecosystem, making them critically important to coastal communities. It is therefore crucial that people in those communities, particularly in least developed countries and small island developing countries, be heard and have an active role in protecting and sustainably managing the oceans. Ensuring a people centred approach will be best achieved by enshrining in the proposed treaty the principle of the oceans as the common heritage of mankind.

Ms. VIZCARRA (El Salvador), associating herself with the Group of 77, said it is essential that the outcome of the intergovernmental conference incorporate the principle that the oceans are the common heritage of mankind. She added that a new regime must not affect the legal status of States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. She also expressed appreciation for the voluntary trust fund, which made it possible for the largest number of delegations to participate in the discussions.

Mr. YOSHIMOTO (Japan) underscored the great benefit that marine genetic resources can provide to mankind, including through the development of pharmaceutical products. A new agreement on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction should include a mechanism that will enable all people to enjoy those benefits, bearing in mind that exploiting marine genetic resources involves considerable time and expense. Provisions regarding environmental impact assessments must be consistent with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He went on to recognize the importance of capacity building and technological transfer, citing his country's own experience in that regard.

Mr. AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the development of an internationally legally binding instrument is of paramount importance. Such an instrument will aim to fulfil a number of already existing commitments. The intergovernmental conference must be guided by core principles, namely the sharing of benefits. It must also address the transfer of marine technology. We must abide by important principles such as the common heritage of mankind, he added, stressing that challenges facing developing countries must be examined and addressed. In the context of benefit sharing, he asked several questions, also adding: How will the new instrument address the monitoring of the use of genetic resources and ensure respect the sovereignty of coastal States? These are all questions to be discussed.

Mr. FNU (Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the new legally binding instrument will fill existing gaps. He called for a constructive approach towards the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The new instrument must complement existing documents in this area as well as ensure that the marine environment remains for future generations. The new instrument also should not undermine already existing legal regimes. There is a need to conserve and sustainably manage marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, he said. We must work constructively to achieve a robust and universally acceptable agreement to guarantee the health of the oceans and a future for us all, he added.

Mr. RANASIGHE (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country, being an island State in the Indian Ocean, greatly depends on oceans for its very survival. Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology is essential in that regard, he said, calling for a practical and workable mechanism to ensure effective technology transfer to least developed and developing countries. We must learn from our past experiences, our pitfalls and drawbacks, he added. The international community can no longer afford to do nothing. He reiterated Sri Lanka's full commitment to the work of the conference.

Mr. SIDIBE (Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77, and noting that history is written in the present and told in the past, said the oceans are something that all countries and continents have in common. To succeed, the conference must avoid undertaking weak measures, he said, adding that technology transfers and capacity building for developing countries must be effective.

Ms. SLOBODIAN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said it is worth taking a moment to recognize the progress made so far towards an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. She presented a number of key messages from her organization to the conference in such areas as marine genetic resources, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and the need for technical expertise and governance in the management of the world's oceans.

Mr. MATHIESEN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting the significant contribution made by fisheries to nutrition and food security, said international law allows freedom of fishing on the high seas. However, that freedom is not unqualified, he said, recalling his agency's efforts in collaboration with other stakeholders to strengthen the sustainability of fisheries. The regional dimension is a cornerstone of fisheries management policy, he said, emphasizing that new ways must be found to enhance and develop existing fisheries management policies. He went on to stress that a high seas biodiversity treaty must not undermine existing instruments and mechanisms.

Mr. HAAG, International Maritime Organization (IMO), said that shipping is the engine that keeps the global economy moving. It is also the most cost effective and sustainable way to move goods. The IMO has adopted over 50 treaties, the majority of which are legally binding. Some of these deal directly with the protection of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. He pledged his full commitment to provide input and advice to delegations in discussion on a new legally binding global instrument.

ALFONSO ASCENCIO-HERRERA, International Seabed Authority, said that the Convention on the Law of the Sea places no boundaries on the protection it gives to the marine environment. Thus, it brings within its purview the adverse effects on the marine environment from activities on land and in the atmosphere. We must be careful that in discussing parts of the marine environment in parts of ocean space, we do not further fragment the law of the sea and act in a manner that is incompatible with the comprehensive and holistic approach adopted by the framers of the Convention, he said. The Convention's provisions already encompass the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity. It is essential that delegations do not overlook or undermine the existing provisions of the Convention, he added.

Mr. HAUGAN, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the ocean is under increasing pressure as human activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction become more frequent and intense. The international community must take a holistic approach to developing a legally binding instrument. Emphasizing the need to improve the way observation data is managed, he underscored the importance of marine scientific research. We need to ensure that the best scientific knowledge is generated and used, he stressed, outlining a number of activities his organization is undertaking. That includes, among other things, improving the scientific knowledge base and the transfer of technology to small island developing States and least developed countries.

Mr. NAKAMURA, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said UNEP appreciates progress made to date on an instrument dealing with high seas biodiversity. He noted UNEP's coordination of regional programmes that deal with area based management, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building and technology transfers. He added that UNEP stands ready to provide further technical input to the intergovernmental conference.

The representative of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission said conservation objectives are clearly set out in the convention under which the Commission operates. He underscored the strategic and practical cooperation between the Commission and other regional fisheries management organizations.

Ms. LEE, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, briefed the conference on the work of the Convention that might be relevant to its proceedings. She reviewed the Convention's ecosystem approach, noting that it is reflected in guidelines for the consideration of biodiversity in environmental impact assessments. She also drew attention to the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking place in Egypt in November.

Ms. VIRTUE, Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, said that coherent areas of networks are needed. Two recent resolutions on the Convention on Migratory Species focus on ways to improve connectivity and address the needs of migratory species throughout their life cycle. The Convention on Migratory Species works closely with UNEP and other international bodies and looks forward to working with the intergovernmental conference to conserve marine life.

Ms. CICIN-SAIN, International Coastal and Ocean Organization, emphasized the need for capacity building, particularly to further develop effective legal and policy frameworks. Building up capacity for collaborative action is essential, she said, underscoring the various funding approaches available. For capacity development efforts to be fruitful, sustained and reliable financing is critical.

Ms. GOTTLIEB, International Council of Environmental Law, emphasized the role of the rule of law, stating that environmental law helps people fashion their laws to respect the laws of nature. Through the rule of law, we can find ways to coexist in our interconnected planet, she said, adding that the rule of law can create inclusive and collaborative ways to solve complex challenges. Only by listening to each other and working collaboratively can the world's oceans be saved.

Ms. KALAS, High Seas Alliance, associating herself with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, noted that her organization brings together 40 non governmental organizations including Greenpeace, Pew Charitable Trust, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Nature Conservancy and the Global Ocean Trust. Acknowledging the progress made so far, she said work on a high seas biodiversity agreement now is entering uncharted waters. Science has identified the threats to the world's oceans, including climate change, plastics pollution and overfishing. The greatest threat, however, comes from the failure to deal with such manifold problems. Agreeing with the European Union delegation that the time has come to go beyond conceptual discussions and move to text based negotiations, she said a draft text must be drawn up as soon as possible and before the next session of the intergovernmental conference. She expressed confidence that with a constructive attitude, the current session will be a success, because simply we cannot fail.

Ms. REEVE, Ocean Care, said a high seas biodiversity treaty must include specific provisions regarding underwater noise pollution, a problem that clearly illustrated the need for an overarching global agreement. Such noise � which travels four times further than surface noise, potentially crossing national boundaries � is caused by virtually every kind of human activity, with cumulative and long term impacts.

Capacity-Building and Transfer of Marine Technology

In the afternoon, the conference suspended its plenary to begin discussions, starting with the objectives of capacity building and transfer of marine technology. Ngedikes Olai Uludong (Palau) facilitated the discussion, during which several delegates made the case for the new legal instrument to clearly spell out the capacity building obligations of States parties.

In opening remarks, conference President Rena Lee (Singapore) drew attention to the aid to discussion that she prepared ahead of the intergovernmental conference, saying its length was a factor in determining what went into it. It is not intended to be exhaustive and nobody should feel bound by its structure, she said, inviting delegates to bring up issues that might have been left out.

She explained that, in drawing up the aid to discussion, she wanted to put the conference squarely on the path to a zero draft. In that regard, she added, it is time to narrow the focus of discussions in order to forge an international legally binding instrument that is fair, balanced and effective. She also expressed her hope for a real conversation that goes beyond reading prepared statements.

Egypt's representative, speaking on behalf of Group of 77, said the instrument should define general obligations, recognize the relevance of marine scientific research for developing countries, and take into account the situation of landlocked developing countries and geographically disadvantaged States.

Sharing that view, the Maldives' delegate, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said a definition of general obligations should include a non exhaustive list of objectives and principles. Special regard should be given to the requirements of developing countries, small island developing States enjoying preferential and simplified access to any financial mechanism related to capacity building and transfer of marine technology.

The representative of the European Union suggested a general provision that would set out, in broad terms, the objective of capacity building and technology transfer, as well as reflecting the special requirements of developing States. He emphasized that capacity building and technology transfer should be needs driven and benefit those who request assistance.

His counterpart from Nauru, on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, pointed out that there is no mechanism under the Convention on the Law of the Sea for identifying needs. She suggested that a technical needs assessment should be carried out, enabling developing countries, particularly small island developing States, to identify needs and then request them.

Mexico's representative said the main objective should be to ensure that all States have the capacity to access marine genetic resources and to carry out their own research to develop products, processes and tools for the benefit of mankind. In addition, States must also have the capacity to protect and preserve the marine environment while protecting biodiversity.

The representative of Argentina said capacity building and technology transfer obligations must be clearly defined. He also underscored the need for a funding mechanism.

Norway's speaker said that in discussing capacity building and technology transfer, delegations must keep in focus that issue's link with marine genetic resources. He said his country would like to see a package in which those two elements together produce a good result. Wherever possible, the conference should draw examples from other legal instruments, he added.

The representative of Nigeria said a high seas biodiversity treaty must include at least a general provision on capacity building that goes beyond what now exists in the Convention on the Law of the Sea and other instruments.

The United States' delegate agreed with the European Union's suggestion that the proposed legal instrument include a paragraph or a provision on the objectives of capacity building and technology transfer. Provisions in that regard should be compatible with local, national and regional needs and realities, building as well on efforts already being undertaken. Any capacity building and technology transfer element should apply to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas outside of national jurisdiction, and not to all activities that fall under the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He emphasized that the United States does not support including language that will allow preferential treatment for developing countries.

The representative of Switzerland said a lot of capacity building and technology transfer is already taking place. The text should bring governance to those issues, rather than duplicate what is already in place. Any provision must not lead to binding obligations for users of marine biodiversity resources.

The Russian Federation's delegate said the idea of highlighting specific objectives vis A� vis capacity building and technology transfer was, in and of itself, not a bad idea. However, they must not go beyond what has already been established in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He added that capacity building and technology transfer must be carried out on a voluntary basis, according to conditions agreed by the relevant parties.

Also speaking were representatives of Saint Lucia (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Federated States of Micronesia, China, Iran, Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador, Mauritius, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Thailand, Japan, Togo, Colombia, Senegal, Uruguay, Guinea and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Observer of the Holy See.

Representatives of UNEP and the High Seas Alliance also spoke.

Source: United Nations

Delegates Say New Marine Biodiversity Treaty Must Respect Jurisdiction of Coastal States over Their Continental Shelf, as Intergovernmental Conference Continues

The intergovernmental conference to draft the first ever treaty to conserve and protect marine diversity on the high seas concluded its general discussions today before moving to informal negotiations on the text, with speakers calling for a universal, inclusive text that is careful not to jeopardize existing frameworks.

Several delegations underscored that a legally binding global agreement must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The new legal instrument must respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal States over their continental shelf.

Regarding possible overlapping jurisdiction, the representative of Indonesia said that he believes the conference can move the debate forward and consider possible middle ground. Reconciling interests between States with opposite views in ocean affairs, while challenging, is not impossible.

Mexico's representative said the conference's success will depend on the commitment and availability of all partners involved. Language of the new international instrument must ensure that developing countries have a seat at the table in future discussions on protecting oceans. We bear a shared responsibility for which the planet itself will hold us accountable, he added.

Colombia's delegate also emphasized the importance of including myriad voices in discussions, adding however that participation in the current conference must not be mistaken as a change in a State's established position regarding the Convention on the Law of the Sea. If a State is not party to that treaty, its contribution should still be welcomed in current negotiations.

The representative of the United States said that a new text must be consistent with the existing law of the sea regime and not undermine existing instruments and bodies. He went on to express concern about the successful negotiation of a benefit sharing regime, which must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and remain consistent with existing intellectual property regimes. The conference must not negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to a majority while leaving States with key interests out of the picture.

Cameroon's representative said the new instrument must complement existing documents in this area as well as ensure that the marine environment remains for future generations. We must work constructively to achieve a robust and universally acceptable agreement to guarantee the health of the oceans and a future for us all, he added.

The representative of Sri Lanka said that his country greatly depends on oceans for its very survival. Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology is essential in that regard, he said, calling for a practical and workable mechanism to ensure effective technology transfer to least developed and developing countries. We must learn from our past experiences, our pitfalls and drawbacks, he said.

In the afternoon, the conference suspended its plenary to begin discussions, starting with capacity building and transfer of marine technology. Several delegates made the case for the new legal instrument to clearly spell out the capacity building obligations of States parties, with some saying it should build on relevant provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The current session of the conference is the first in a series, with the second and third to take place in 2019 and the fourth and last planned for the first half of 2020.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mozambique, Honduras, Tonga, India, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, Eritrea, El Salvador, Japan, Sudan and Guinea.

Delivering statements were the representatives from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Seabed Authority, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

The following non governmental organizations also participated: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, International Coastal and Ocean Organization, International Council of Environmental Law, High Seas Alliance and Ocean Care.

The intergovernmental conference will meet again on Thursday, 6 September at 10 a.m. to continue its work.

General Exchange of Views

Mr. KALAKE (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction is a twenty first century issue that requires a constructive approach by the international community. The new legal instrument should respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal States over their continental shelf, including beyond 200 nautical miles. With regard to possible overlapping jurisdiction, he said he believes the conference can move the debate forward and consider possible middle ground, such as in the form of a sui generis regime. He went on to say that reconciling interests between States with opposite views in ocean affairs, while challenging, is not impossible. He added that the legal instrument should be concluded as soon as possible, for the longer we wait, the more lacuna exist.

ANTA�NIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, noted his country's location alongside the Mozambique Channel, which contains abundant biodiversity and mineral resources, in addition to being an important route for commercial navigation. That led his delegation to believe that an ecosystems approach should not be overlooked in the proposed new instrument. He added that capacity building and technology transfer are key to enabling developing countries to fully maximize the opportunities and benefits that the world's oceans can offer.

Mr. SANDOVAL (Mexico) said the moment has come to move from procedural discussions to substantive ones. Success will depend on the commitment and availability of all partners involved. Mexico, a mega diverse country with thousands of miles of coastline, will continue to play a highly active role in discussions. He emphasized that the new instrument must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and also careful not to jeopardize existing frameworks. The language of the new international instrument must ensure that developing countries have a seat at the table in future discussions on protecting oceans. We bear a shared responsibility for which the planet itself will hold us accountable, he added.

Ms. SOLANO (Colombia), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her delegation trusts that having a conference open to all States will lead to a well balanced text. Participation in the current conference must not be mistaken as a change in a State's established position regarding the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. If a State is not party to that treaty, its contribution should still be welcomed in current negotiations. The new instrument must be universal and respond to the multidimensional challenges faced by mankind. She underscored the importance of including the concept of equitable benefit sharing. Colombia stands ready to reach an ambitious, inclusive and cooperative instrument.

Mr. RIVERA (Honduras), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the outcome of the intergovernmental conference should be consensual. Members States have a responsibility to review and bridge any gaps, particularly with regard to risk, using scientific information and with the cooperation of all States. The common goal is the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction for future generations. He emphasized that his country will cooperate with others to achieve an outcome that is objective, substantive and constructive.

VILIAMI VA'INGA TONE (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and Pacific small island developing States, said that the convening of the first session of the intergovernmental conference provides a significant milestone for his country. Together as custodians of this one entire planet and its one ocean, it is ever necessary for us to ensure we carry out our common responsibility, he added. Stressing the importance of ensuring that all countries have a fair and equitable say in the management of oceans and seas, he said that all people have a common interest in the preservation of its resources. An all hands on deck approach is the only way forward to reaching an international instrument.

Mr. BLOOM (United States) expressed support for the sustainable use and management of the world's oceans and their resources, stating that a healthy and productive marine environment is fundamental for support to the blue economy. The United States is hopeful that the conference can make progress, leading to a meaningful and science based agreement that promotes ocean research and development for the benefit of all. Such a text must be consistent with the existing law of the sea regime and not undermine existing instruments and bodies. He added that his delegation welcomes discussions on area based management and environmental impact assessments. The difficult question is how that can be done in a meaningful way, without undermining existing instruments, frameworks and bodies.

He went on to express concern about the successful negotiation of a benefit sharing regime, which must be consistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and remain consistent with existing intellectual property regimes. He added that the conference must not negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to a majority while leaving States with key interests out of the picture. The session must focus its work on specific textual proposals, negotiated line by line, resulting in a balanced agreement.

Mr. NARAYANANE (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said there is a dire need to conclude an international legally binding agreement immediately in order to establish clarity and guidance for accessing marine resources in areas outside national jurisdiction. The use of marine resources must be transparent, thus making conservation efforts feasible, he said, adding that the outcome of the conference should be fully consistent with the Convention on the Law of the Sea without undermining existing bodies.

Ms. OZTOP (Turkey) welcomed the comprehensive aid to discussion paper which provides a sound basis for future deliberations. Turkey's participation in the negotiations, which may result in a legally binding instrument, cannot be construed as a change in the established position of Turkey regarding the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Indeed, Turkey is not a party to the Convention and is also of the opinion that the instrument is neither universal nor has a unified character. We also believe that it is not the only legal framework that regulates all activities in the oceans and seas, she added.

Ms. OTARU (United Republic of Tanzania), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, welcomed current discussions and looked forward to Member States joining forces to come up with a new comprehensive global legally binding instrument. She expressed hope that the new instrument will include the important principle of benefit sharing as enshrined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. She also assured her country's political will for productive discussions with the aim of a successful conclusion.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that the sound management of the biological resources of the areas beyond national jurisdiction is critical for his region. Hence the development of an internationally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is fully supported by his delegation. While the situation in his region is increasingly challenging, he said Nigeria remains hopeful that delegations will reach an agreement on ways to mitigate or eliminate poor conservation practices. A new legally binding instrument should in no way undermine the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he added.

Mr. MOHAMMED (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the status quo is not a viable option. Any delay in reaching an agreement means compounding existing threats. Despite the common perception that the high seas are too remote, strong scientific evidence indicates that the oceans are a highly interconnected ecosystem, making them critically important to coastal communities. It is therefore crucial that people in those communities, particularly in least developed countries and small island developing countries, be heard and have an active role in protecting and sustainably managing the oceans. Ensuring a people centred approach will be best achieved by enshrining in the proposed treaty the principle of the oceans as the common heritage of mankind.

Ms. VIZCARRA (El Salvador), associating herself with the Group of 77, said it is essential that the outcome of the intergovernmental conference incorporate the principle that the oceans are the common heritage of mankind. She added that a new regime must not affect the legal status of States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. She also expressed appreciation for the voluntary trust fund, which made it possible for the largest number of delegations to participate in the discussions.

Mr. YOSHIMOTO (Japan) underscored the great benefit that marine genetic resources can provide to mankind, including through the development of pharmaceutical products. A new agreement on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction should include a mechanism that will enable all people to enjoy those benefits, bearing in mind that exploiting marine genetic resources involves considerable time and expense. Provisions regarding environmental impact assessments must be consistent with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He went on to recognize the importance of capacity building and technological transfer, citing his country's own experience in that regard.

Mr. AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the development of an internationally legally binding instrument is of paramount importance. Such an instrument will aim to fulfil a number of already existing commitments. The intergovernmental conference must be guided by core principles, namely the sharing of benefits. It must also address the transfer of marine technology. We must abide by important principles such as the common heritage of mankind, he added, stressing that challenges facing developing countries must be examined and addressed. In the context of benefit sharing, he asked several questions, also adding: How will the new instrument address the monitoring of the use of genetic resources and ensure respect the sovereignty of coastal States? These are all questions to be discussed.

Mr. FNU (Cameroon), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the new legally binding instrument will fill existing gaps. He called for a constructive approach towards the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The new instrument must complement existing documents in this area as well as ensure that the marine environment remains for future generations. The new instrument also should not undermine already existing legal regimes. There is a need to conserve and sustainably manage marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, he said. We must work constructively to achieve a robust and universally acceptable agreement to guarantee the health of the oceans and a future for us all, he added.

Mr. RANASIGHE (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country, being an island State in the Indian Ocean, greatly depends on oceans for its very survival. Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology is essential in that regard, he said, calling for a practical and workable mechanism to ensure effective technology transfer to least developed and developing countries. We must learn from our past experiences, our pitfalls and drawbacks, he added. The international community can no longer afford to do nothing. He reiterated Sri Lanka's full commitment to the work of the conference.

Mr. SIDIBE (Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77, and noting that history is written in the present and told in the past, said the oceans are something that all countries and continents have in common. To succeed, the conference must avoid undertaking weak measures, he said, adding that technology transfers and capacity building for developing countries must be effective.

Ms. SLOBODIAN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said it is worth taking a moment to recognize the progress made so far towards an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. She presented a number of key messages from her organization to the conference in such areas as marine genetic resources, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and the need for technical expertise and governance in the management of the world's oceans.

Mr. MATHIESEN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting the significant contribution made by fisheries to nutrition and food security, said international law allows freedom of fishing on the high seas. However, that freedom is not unqualified, he said, recalling his agency's efforts in collaboration with other stakeholders to strengthen the sustainability of fisheries. The regional dimension is a cornerstone of fisheries management policy, he said, emphasizing that new ways must be found to enhance and develop existing fisheries management policies. He went on to stress that a high seas biodiversity treaty must not undermine existing instruments and mechanisms.

Mr. HAAG, International Maritime Organization (IMO), said that shipping is the engine that keeps the global economy moving. It is also the most cost effective and sustainable way to move goods. The IMO has adopted over 50 treaties, the majority of which are legally binding. Some of these deal directly with the protection of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. He pledged his full commitment to provide input and advice to delegations in discussion on a new legally binding global instrument.

ALFONSO ASCENCIO-HERRERA, International Seabed Authority, said that the Convention on the Law of the Sea places no boundaries on the protection it gives to the marine environment. Thus, it brings within its purview the adverse effects on the marine environment from activities on land and in the atmosphere. We must be careful that in discussing parts of the marine environment in parts of ocean space, we do not further fragment the law of the sea and act in a manner that is incompatible with the comprehensive and holistic approach adopted by the framers of the Convention, he said. The Convention's provisions already encompass the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity. It is essential that delegations do not overlook or undermine the existing provisions of the Convention, he added.

Mr. HAUGAN, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the ocean is under increasing pressure as human activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction become more frequent and intense. The international community must take a holistic approach to developing a legally binding instrument. Emphasizing the need to improve the way observation data is managed, he underscored the importance of marine scientific research. We need to ensure that the best scientific knowledge is generated and used, he stressed, outlining a number of activities his organization is undertaking. That includes, among other things, improving the scientific knowledge base and the transfer of technology to small island developing States and least developed countries.

Mr. NAKAMURA, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said UNEP appreciates progress made to date on an instrument dealing with high seas biodiversity. He noted UNEP's coordination of regional programmes that deal with area based management, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building and technology transfers. He added that UNEP stands ready to provide further technical input to the intergovernmental conference.

The representative of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission said conservation objectives are clearly set out in the convention under which the Commission operates. He underscored the strategic and practical cooperation between the Commission and other regional fisheries management organizations.

Ms. LEE, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, briefed the conference on the work of the Convention that might be relevant to its proceedings. She reviewed the Convention's ecosystem approach, noting that it is reflected in guidelines for the consideration of biodiversity in environmental impact assessments. She also drew attention to the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking place in Egypt in November.

Ms. VIRTUE, Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, said that coherent areas of networks are needed. Two recent resolutions on the Convention on Migratory Species focus on ways to improve connectivity and address the needs of migratory species throughout their life cycle. The Convention on Migratory Species works closely with UNEP and other international bodies and looks forward to working with the intergovernmental conference to conserve marine life.

Ms. CICIN-SAIN, International Coastal and Ocean Organization, emphasized the need for capacity building, particularly to further develop effective legal and policy frameworks. Building up capacity for collaborative action is essential, she said, underscoring the various funding approaches available. For capacity development efforts to be fruitful, sustained and reliable financing is critical.

Ms. GOTTLIEB, International Council of Environmental Law, emphasized the role of the rule of law, stating that environmental law helps people fashion their laws to respect the laws of nature. Through the rule of law, we can find ways to coexist in our interconnected planet, she said, adding that the rule of law can create inclusive and collaborative ways to solve complex challenges. Only by listening to each other and working collaboratively can the world's oceans be saved.

Ms. KALAS, High Seas Alliance, associating herself with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, noted that her organization brings together 40 non governmental organizations including Greenpeace, Pew Charitable Trust, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Nature Conservancy and the Global Ocean Trust. Acknowledging the progress made so far, she said work on a high seas biodiversity agreement now is entering uncharted waters. Science has identified the threats to the world's oceans, including climate change, plastics pollution and overfishing. The greatest threat, however, comes from the failure to deal with such manifold problems. Agreeing with the European Union delegation that the time has come to go beyond conceptual discussions and move to text based negotiations, she said a draft text must be drawn up as soon as possible and before the next session of the intergovernmental conference. She expressed confidence that with a constructive attitude, the current session will be a success, because simply we cannot fail.

Ms. REEVE, Ocean Care, said a high seas biodiversity treaty must include specific provisions regarding underwater noise pollution, a problem that clearly illustrated the need for an overarching global agreement. Such noise � which travels four times further than surface noise, potentially crossing national boundaries � is caused by virtually every kind of human activity, with cumulative and long term impacts.

Capacity-Building and Transfer of Marine Technology

In the afternoon, the conference suspended its plenary to begin discussions, starting with the objectives of capacity building and transfer of marine technology. Ngedikes Olai Uludong (Palau) facilitated the discussion, during which several delegates made the case for the new legal instrument to clearly spell out the capacity building obligations of States parties.

In opening remarks, conference President Rena Lee (Singapore) drew attention to the aid to discussion that she prepared ahead of the intergovernmental conference, saying its length was a factor in determining what went into it. It is not intended to be exhaustive and nobody should feel bound by its structure, she said, inviting delegates to bring up issues that might have been left out.

She explained that, in drawing up the aid to discussion, she wanted to put the conference squarely on the path to a zero draft. In that regard, she added, it is time to narrow the focus of discussions in order to forge an international legally binding instrument that is fair, balanced and effective. She also expressed her hope for a real conversation that goes beyond reading prepared statements.

Egypt's representative, speaking on behalf of Group of 77, said the instrument should define general obligations, recognize the relevance of marine scientific research for developing countries, and take into account the situation of landlocked developing countries and geographically disadvantaged States.

Sharing that view, the Maldives' delegate, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said a definition of general obligations should include a non exhaustive list of objectives and principles. Special regard should be given to the requirements of developing countries, small island developing States enjoying preferential and simplified access to any financial mechanism related to capacity building and transfer of marine technology.

The representative of the European Union suggested a general provision that would set out, in broad terms, the objective of capacity building and technology transfer, as well as reflecting the special requirements of developing States. He emphasized that capacity building and technology transfer should be needs driven and benefit those who request assistance.

His counterpart from Nauru, on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, pointed out that there is no mechanism under the Convention on the Law of the Sea for identifying needs. She suggested that a technical needs assessment should be carried out, enabling developing countries, particularly small island developing States, to identify needs and then request them.

Mexico's representative said the main objective should be to ensure that all States have the capacity to access marine genetic resources and to carry out their own research to develop products, processes and tools for the benefit of mankind. In addition, States must also have the capacity to protect and preserve the marine environment while protecting biodiversity.

The representative of Argentina said capacity building and technology transfer obligations must be clearly defined. He also underscored the need for a funding mechanism.

Norway's speaker said that in discussing capacity building and technology transfer, delegations must keep in focus that issue's link with marine genetic resources. He said his country would like to see a package in which those two elements together produce a good result. Wherever possible, the conference should draw examples from other legal instruments, he added.

The representative of Nigeria said a high seas biodiversity treaty must include at least a general provision on capacity building that goes beyond what now exists in the Convention on the Law of the Sea and other instruments.

The United States' delegate agreed with the European Union's suggestion that the proposed legal instrument include a paragraph or a provision on the objectives of capacity building and technology transfer. Provisions in that regard should be compatible with local, national and regional needs and realities, building as well on efforts already being undertaken. Any capacity building and technology transfer element should apply to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas outside of national jurisdiction, and not to all activities that fall under the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He emphasized that the United States does not support including language that will allow preferential treatment for developing countries.

The representative of Switzerland said a lot of capacity building and technology transfer is already taking place. The text should bring governance to those issues, rather than duplicate what is already in place. Any provision must not lead to binding obligations for users of marine biodiversity resources.

The Russian Federation's delegate said the idea of highlighting specific objectives vis A� vis capacity building and technology transfer was, in and of itself, not a bad idea. However, they must not go beyond what has already been established in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. He added that capacity building and technology transfer must be carried out on a voluntary basis, according to conditions agreed by the relevant parties.

Also speaking were representatives of Saint Lucia (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Federated States of Micronesia, China, Iran, Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador, Mauritius, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Thailand, Japan, Togo, Colombia, Senegal, Uruguay, Guinea and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Observer of the Holy See.

Representatives of UNEP and the High Seas Alliance also spoke.

Source: United Nations