Negotiating a new UN treaty for the ocean

Learn how Ocean Voices is contributing to the current negotiations to finalise a new, internationally legally binding UN treaty for the ocean at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

We are participating in the UN treaty negotiations sharing our voices as scientists from SIDS and helping to fill gaps in knowledge especially where delegations do not have scientists in their group.

Fellows at BBNJ
Ocean Voices at UN BBNJ negotiations (L-R Harriet Harden-Davies, Alumita Sekinairai, Sheena Talma, Gemma Nelson, Vanessa Lopes).

Negotiations for a new UN treaty for the ocean have reached crunch time at UN headquarters in New York. This process is the culmination of 20 years of international discussions to develop a new international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the two thirds of the ocean that lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Over the past two weeks States have been working to find landing zones on critical issues. The next two days will be crucial to find the compromises needed to complete the negotiations and ensure an equitable and effective treaty. 

The negotiations are addressing the sharing of benefits for marine genetic resources, area-based management tools such as marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology. Critically, the negotiations are also working to establish institutional mechanisms to convene States and stakeholders for the global ocean commons and enabling measures for finance and information sharing.  

Nippon Foundation Ocean Voices Fellows Alumita Sekinairai, Vanessa Ferreira Lopes, Sheena Talma and Gemma Nelson are attending the negotiations in person with Dr Harriet Harden-Davies, and Visiting PhD Scholars Julia Schutz Viega and Luciana Coehlo while Dr Marjo Vierros and Mariana Caldeira are participating remotely. The team are contributing expert input to the negotiations, bringing perspectives from different disciplines and countries, filling gaps in understanding and building bridges between diverging positions by working with colleagues from States, intergovernmental organisations such as IUCN and non-governmental organisations such as the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative.  

In the opening plenary of 2 March, the second to final day of negotiations, the President of the conference invited delegations to warm up to “run the marathon all the way over the finish line”. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Ocean Voices at BBNJ
Connecting across science, policy and law with the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative, UN HNQ New York, 2023.
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