Thursday, 5 September 2013

BBNJ Working Group Makes Progress Towards Rio+20 Commitment

23 August 2013: The sixth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group (the Working Group) to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ) aimed to identify gaps and ways forward with a view to ensuring an effective legal framework on BBNJ, drawing on inputs provided by intersessional workshops that were held in early May 2013 to improve understanding of BBNJ issues and lead to a more productive debate in the Working Group.
The meeting, which convened from 19-23 August 2013 at UN Headquarters in New York, was attended by close to 300 participants, including national delegations, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. It was called by the General Assembly in resolution 67/78 and was held in light of paragraph 162 of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development's (UNCSD or Rio+20) outcome document 'The Future We Want,' which contains a commitment to address on an urgent basis, building on the work of the Working Group, the issue of BBNJ including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), before the end of the sixty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly.

Delegates engaged in brief plenary discussions of the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ, and on gaps and ways forward. Draft recommendations on next procedural steps were discussed by a Friends of the Co-Chairs' group that was open only to national delegations.

Delegates agreed by consensus to establish a preparatory process in the Working Group to fulfill the Rio+20 commitment by focusing on the scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument under UNCLOS. The Working Group is thus expected to be convened twice in 2014 and at least once in 2015, with a view to preparing for a decision on BBNJ by the General Assembly before the end of its sixty-ninth session.