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Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ)

2023 JUN 19

Preliminary   > Environment and Ecology   >   Miscellaneous   >   International conventions

Why in news?

  • The United Nations has adopted the first-ever treaty to protect marine life on the high seas.
  • The treaty will be opened for signatures on September 20, 2023, during the annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly, and it will take effect once it is ratified by 60 countries.

About UN High Seas Treaty:

  • The High Seas Treaty is a global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources on the high seas. The high seas are open ocean areas that are outside the jurisdiction of any country. The treaty is also known as the agreement on “biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions” or BBNJ. 
  • The treaty has four main objectives:
    • a) Demarcation of marine protected areas (MPAs)
    • b) Sustainable use of marine genetic resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from them
    • c) Initiation of the practice of environmental impact assessments for all major activities in the oceans
    • d) Capacity building and technology transfer. 
  • The High Seas Treaty will work as an implementation agreement under the UNCLOS, much like the Paris Agreement works under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Expected outcomes of the treaty:

  • Fresh protection beyond borders: 
    • While countries are responsible for the conservation and sustainable use of waterways under their national jurisdiction, the high seas now have added protection from such destructive trends as pollution and unsustainable fishing activities.
  • Cleaner oceans: 
    • The treaty aims at strengthening resilience and contains provisions based on the polluter-pays principle as well as mechanisms for disputes.
    • Under the treaty’s provisions, parties must assess the potential environmental impacts of any planned activities beyond their jurisdictions.
  • Sustainably managing fish stocks: 
    • According to the UN, more than one-third of global fish stocks are over-exploited.The treaty underlines the importance of capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, including the development and strengthening of institutional capacity and national regulatory frameworks or mechanisms.
    • This includes increasing collaboration among regional seas organizations and regional fisheries management organizations.
  • Lowering temperatures: 
    • Addressing these urgent concerns, the treaty offers guidance, including an integrated approach to ocean management that builds ecosystem resilience to tackle the adverse effects of climate change.
    • The treaty also recognizes the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, the freedom of scientific research and the need for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits.


Consider the following statements regarding UN High Seas Treaty:

1. The treaty aims to deal with the ocean existing beyond the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

2. It was negotiated under United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2