After a decade of discussions among States, international organisations and stakeholders, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) launched negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
An implementing agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is expected.
An Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), initiated in 2018, convened its latest session in New York from August 19th to 30th 2019. Delegations are now negotiating on the basis of a draft treaty proposed by its president, Rena Lee. A revised version should be ready before the next IGC session.
As negotiators go deeper into the details of the future treaty, it becomes clear to France that the private sector will play a key role in the new governance of the high seas and the sustainable use of its biological diversity even though that sector is not yet well represented at the IGC.
However, the private sector is already active on the high seas in a range of ways. These activities will increase in the next decades thanks to technical progress. The private sector also partners with other stakeholders on the high seas, through its contribution to marine scientific research or supporting capacity building in developing States. At the same time, the private sector is an efficient stakeholder of organisations in the sector, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) or the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). Companies’ experience in areas under national jurisdiction could also be of interest for some chapters of the future agreement (the environment impact assessment (EIA), for example).
For all these reasons, a high-level workshop was drawn up to explore the role of the private sector in the BBNJ negotiations and in the future operation of the treaty, once in force.