Today the 2nd Preparatory Committee meetings (PrepCom2) get underway on the U.N. negotiations to expand the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to include a new legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine life in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
The World Ocean Council (WOC) continues to provide ocean business community presence and input to the BBNJ process. The WOC is working to develop dialogue and interaction between the private sector and other stakeholders and to ensure that the BBNJ results will be practical, implementable and engender constructive ocean business community engagement in the conservation and sustainable use of marine life in international waters.
A full briefing on the BBNJ process and draft binding agreement to the Law of the Sea will be provided to the ocean business community at a special session of the 2016 Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS), Rotterdam, 30 Nov -2 Dec.
At the first of four BBNJ Preparatory Committee meetings (PrepCom1) to develop the new treaty elements (April 2016, U.N. headquarters, New York), the WOC made the only industry opening statement to governments. The WOC organized the only industry-focused “side event”, in coordination with the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Chamber of Shipping. The WOC side event addressed the importance of the diverse ocean economy and the essential role of private sector leadership and collaboration in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in international waters
The WOC is participating in PrepCom2 (29 August-9 September, 2016) to continue providing a coordinated presence and voice for the ocean business community. The BBNJ PrepComs will convene again twice in 2017, after which the U.N. General Assembly will review and adopt new Law of the Sea requirements covering:
• Marine genetic resources (MGRs) including questions of benefit sharing
• Area-based management tools including marine protected areas (MPAs)
• Environmental impact assessments (EIAs)
• Capacity-building and transfer of marine technology
The WOC has organized the “UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition” as a means for coordinated industry involvement in the BBNJ process. The “WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition”, with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as co-organizer and the International Chamber of Shipping as chair, includes organizations such as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC), European Network of Maritime Clusters and Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation. Additional ocean industry organizations are invited and encouraged to participate in the coalition.
WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition members (as well as WOC Members) benefit by receiving expert review and analysis of the BBNJ process, covering the PrepCom dynamics, the priority BBNJ issues, concerns and input of governments and other stakeholders, and the evolving content of the draft new legally binding agreement.
There is still time for ocean industries to engage and have a voice in this critical ocean governance process that will affect business access and operations in the high seas for the foreseeable future by joining the WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition. Industry involvement is critical and can help ensure that policies and regulations are developed with full and balanced information, are based on good science and risk assessment, are practical and implementable and engender the involvement and support of the ocean business community.
Ocean industries currently or potentially operating in the high seas and deep seabed are encouraged to get involved in the WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition to ensure constructive, coordinated engagement in the development of the new legally binding UNCLOS agreement.
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