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4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

10-21 July 2017 | UN Headquarters, New York

Summary Highlights of the Meeting

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Ocean exhibition in the lobby of the UN Headquarters, New York, US


Highlights for Friday, 21 July 2017

On Friday, 21 July, plenary resumed at 3:45 pm. Chair Duarte offered draft recommendations arising from informal bilateral consultations, clarifying that: the elements of the draft text of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) do not reflect consensus; section A includes non-exclusive elements that generated convergence among most delegations; section B highlights some of the main issues on which there is divergence of views; and both sections are for reference purposes because they do not reflect all options discussed and are without prejudice to states’ positions during the negotiations. In addition, the draft included: a recommendation to the UN General Assembly to take a decision, as soon as possible, on the convening of an intergovernmental conference (IGC), under the auspices of the UN, to consider the PrepCom recommendations on the elements and to elaborate the text of an ILBI under the Convention; and an indication that the titles of the two sections be removed (namely, “elements of an ILBI draft text” and “elements requiring most attention towards further progress in the development of an ILBI draft text”) . Plenary was immediately suspended to allow for regional consultations.

7:25 pm: regional consultations are still ongoing

8:59 pm: plenary resumes

9:10 pm: plenary adopts recommendations to UN General Assembly

10:01 pm: Chair Duarte gaveled the meeting to a close

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of PrepCom 4 will be available on Monday, 24 July 2017, online at: http://enb.iisd.org/oceans/bbnj/prepcom4/

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, has provided daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. The summary and analysis report is now available in HTML and PDF.

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Dais applaudes the conclusion of PrepCom 4


Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly

Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil, gaveled the meeting to a close at 10:01 pm


L-R: Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly; Barbara Boechat, Brazil; Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UNDOALOS; Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil; Alice Hicuburundi, UNDOALOS; and Charlotte Salpin, UNDOALOS


Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil, in discussion with John Brincat, EU


Delegates waiting for the resumption of PrepCom 4


Delegates from Iceland reviewing draft text

Delegates from the African Group reviewing draft text


Delegates from Norway and Iceland consulting


Delegates from the African Group consulting



Highlights for Thursday, 20 July 2017


On Thursday, 20 July, in an afternoon plenary, delegates considered a further revised Chair’s text including: a draft recommendation to the General Assembly on the substantive elements of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI), indicating that the structure and elements reflect the outcome of the PrepCom discussions, and are not exclusive and without prejudice to the position of states during the negotiations; a procedural recommendation to the General Assembly to take a decision, as soon as possible, on convening and intergovernmental conference (IGC) under the UN auspices, to consider the PrepCom’s substantive recommendations and to elaborate the ILBI text under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with a starting date as early as possible; and two sections, one on elements of the draft ILBI text (section A) and the other on elements that require most attention towards further progress in the development of a draft ILBI text (section B).

Following a round of comments, Chair Duarte acknowledged that the revised draft did not fully reflect all positions; noted concerns expressed by some delegations and those requesting more time to make a decision; and adjourned the session, expressing willingness to exhaust every effort to arrive at consensus, in line with the PrepCom mandate, and inviting delegates to share suggestions with him.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Lois Young, Belize, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Luis Oña Garcés, Ecuador, on behalf of the G-77/China


James Ndirangu Waweru, Kenya

Hina Saeed Baig, Pakistan


Luke Daunivalu, Fiji, on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS)

Juan Carlos Mendoza García, Costa Rica


Maxim Musikhin, Russian Federation

Rena Lee, Singapore


EU delegates consulting immediately after the end of the session


Delegates from PSIDS consulting


L-R: Alistair Graham, Australia, in a conversation with Gerardo Irimia, Panama



Highlights for Wednesday, 19 July 2017


On Wednesday, 19 July, delegates met in plenary in the morning and in the early afternoon to continue consideration of a revised Chair’s text containing draft recommendations to the UN General Assembly, focusing on the following draft elements of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI): environmental impact assessments, capacity building and technology transfer (CB&TT), institutional arrangements, and final clauses. Plenary also considered: a chapeau to the draft elements of the ILBI; and a procedural recommendation calling on the UN General Assembly to convene an intergovernmental conference as soon as possible, with a possible starting date of 2018.

In the afternoon, Chair Duarte held informal closed consultations on: the ILBI relationships with other legal instruments and relevant bodies; international cooperation; access to marine genetic resources (MGRs), types of benefits to be shared, IPRs and monitoring of MGR utilization; relationships between on area-based management tools and measures under other instruments, and adjacency; strategic environmental assessments; terms for technology transfer, and funding for CB&TT; institutional arrangements; financing; responsibility and liability; and a procedural recommendation to the General Assembly.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Lizanne Aching, Trinidad and Tobago

Larisa Chernysheva, Russian Federation


Jung-Eun Kim, Republic of Korea

Alice Revell, New Zealand


Edgar Gutiérrez Espeleta, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica


View of the informal consultations


L-R: Hiba Obaid Darwish Alsheihi, Hiba AlSaleh, and Hassina Ali, United Arab Emirates



Highlights for Tuesday, 18 July 2017


On Tuesday, 18 July, delegates met in plenary throughout the day to continue consideration of a revised Chair’s text containing draft recommendations to the UN General Assembly. Discussions focused on the following draft elements of a new international legally binding instrument: general elements, including use of terms, scope of application, objectives and relationships with other instruments; general principles and approaches; marine genetic resources; area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; and environmental impact assessments.

Chair Duarte proposed concluding consideration of the revised Chair’s draft on Wednesday morning; holding informal consultations with interested delegations on Wednesday afternoon on difficult points on a non-objection basis; and if no reformulation is possible, developing another section in the draft recommendations to deal with non-consensus points.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Jean Kenfack, Cameroon

María Claudia Vélez Crismatt, Colombia

Paulo José Chiarelli, Brazil


Metod Špacek, EU

Teresa Cruz Sardiñas, Cuba

Michael Googan, Australia


L-R: René Lefeber, Tom Diederen, and Wini Broadbelt, the Netherlands


Alistair Graham, Australia, in a conversation with delegates from China


Zentaro Naganuma, Japan, confers with Diedre Mills, Jamaica



Highlights for Monday, 17 July 2017


On Monday, 17 July, delegates met in plenary in the afternoon to consider a revised Chair’s text containing draft recommendations to the UN General Assembly, including preambular elements of a new international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction and its general elements, such as use of terms, scope of application, objectives and relationships with other instruments.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Yolannie Cerrato, Honduras

Angel Horna, Peru


View of PrepCom 4 from the perspective of the dais


L-R: John Brincat, EU, in a conversation with Zentaro Naganuma, Japan


Catherine Boucher, Canada, in a discussion with Matthías Pálsson, Iceland



Highlights for Friday, 14 July 2017


On Friday, 14 July, delegates met in the informal working group on crosscutting issues, discussing: use of terms, scope and objective of the ILBI, relationship with other agreements; as well as guiding principles and approaches, and international cooperation, for BBNJ conservation and sustainable use.

In the afternoon, plenary resumed to discuss next steps including the convening of an intergovernmental conference and the status of the Chair’s streamlined non-paper.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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L-R: Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UNDOALOS; Barbara Boechat, Brazil; Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil; and Charlotte Salpin, UNDOALOS


Metod Špaček, EU


Audrey Naana Abayena, Ghana

Kabure Yeeting, Kiribati

Josefina Bunge, Argentina


Javier Gorostegui, Chile

Narayanane Saravanane, India

Essam Yassin Mohammed, Eritrea


Khurshed Alam, Bangladesh

Juan Cuéllar Torres, Colombia

Ismail Raushan, Maldives, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)


Duncan Currie (second from right), Greenpeace, in a discussion with delegates from New Zealand


Delegates from WWF



Highlights for Thursday, 13 July 2017


On Thursday, 13 July, the informal working group on capacity building and technology transfer continued discussions in the morning, focusing on: objectives, principles, modalities, clearinghouse mechanism, funding, monitoring and review, and definitions.

The informal working group on crosscutting issues, facilitated by Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil, focused on: institutional arrangements, including a decision-making forum, a scientific/technical body, a clearinghouse, a financial mechanism, dispute settlement, responsibility and liability, and review; and the preamble of an international legally binding instrument.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Juliette Babb-Riley, Barbados, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Sabita Nakarmi, Nepal


Margo Deiye, Nauru, on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States

Riena Dwi Astuty, Indonesia


James Ndirangu Waweru, Kenya

Rogelio Villanueva Jr., the Philippines

Mohamed Atlassi, Morocco


Luke Tang, Singapore

Jean Kenfack, Cameroon

Tevita Suka Mangisi, Tonga


Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil, facilitating the informal working group on crosscutting issues


Delegates from the Caribbean Community


Delegates from Germany



Highlights for Wednesday, 12 July 2017


On Wednesday, 12 July, the informal working group on area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs), continued discussions on the designation process, as well as on implementation, relationships to existing instruments, and monitoring and review.

The informal working group on environmental impact assessments (EIAs), facilitated by René Lefeber (the Netherlands), then addressed: obligations, guiding principles and approaches, criteria and thresholds, process, content of EIA reports, relationships to existing instruments, clearinghouse mechanisms, capacity building and technology transfer, and monitoring and review. The informal working group on capacity building and technology transfer, facilitated by Rena Lee (Singapore), started discussion of objectives, and guiding principles and approaches.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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L-R: Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS); Alice Revell, New Zealand, Facilitator of the informal working group on ABMTs, including MPAs; Valentina Germani, UNDOALOS; and Carlos Fuentes, UNDOALOS


Siai Taylor, Cook Islands

Kjell Kristian Egge, Norway


Alice Revell, New Zealand, Facilitator of the informal working group on ABMTs, including MPAs


John Fintakpa Lamega, Togo

Kate Neilson, New Zealand


L-R: Sergey Leonidchenko, Russian Federation, in a conversation with Kjell Kristian Egge, Norway, and Evan Bloom, US



Highlights for Tuesday, 11 July 2017


On Tuesday, 11 July, PrepCom 4's informal working group on marine genetic resources (MGRs), addressed: the nature of benefits; benefit-sharing modalities; intellectual property rights; monitoring of utilization of MGRs; a clearinghouse mechanism; and capacity building and technology transfer.

The informal working group on measures such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs), facilitated by Alice Revell (New Zealand), discussed: objectives, guiding principles and approaches, criteria for identifying areas in need of protection; and the process for establishing ABMTs, including decision-making.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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L-R: Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS); Janine Coye-Felson, Belize, Facilitator of the informal working group on marine genetic resources; Charlotte Salpin, UNDOALOS; and Michele Ameri, UNDOALOS


Sergey Leonidchenko, Russian Federation, making an intervention


Konrad Marciniak, EU

Hiroko Muraki Gottlieb, IUCN


Tevita Suka Mangisi, Tonga

Evan Bloom, US


L-R: Luis Oña Garcés, Ecuador, in a conversation with Zakieh Taghizadeh, Iran


L-R: Florian Botto, Monaco; Sergio Carvalho, Portugal; Tidiani Couma, Monaco; and Stella Bartolini Cavicchi, World Ocean Council



Highlights for Monday, 10 July 2017


On Monday, 10 July, the fourth session of the Preparatory Committee on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) opened with the plenary addressing administrative matters and hearing general statements. In the afternoon, the informal working group on marine genetic resources (MGRs), facilitated by Janine Coye-Felson (Belize), convened to discuss scope, guiding principles and approaches, access and benefit-sharing.

IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, is providing daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Franz Dejon
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Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil

Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres


Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, giving his opening address to PrepCom4


L-R: Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS); Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel; Chair Carlos Sobral Duarte, Brazil; Alice Hicuburundi, UNDOALOS; and Charlotte Salpin, UNDOALOS


Kathryn Garforth, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Louise Kantrow, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)


Ariel Hernán Troisi, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) -UNESCO

Kristina Gjerde, IUCN

Stefan Micallef, International Maritime Organization


Takehiro Nakamura, UN Environment

Peggy Kalas, High Seas Alliance

Gustavo Arévalo Castro, Comisión Permanente del Pacifico Sur (CPPS)


L-R: Ma Xinmin, China, in a conversation with Evan Bloom, US


Delegates from the African Group




Daily CoverageAbout | 10 Jul | 11 Jul | 12 Jul | 13 Jul | 14 Jul | 17 Jul | 18 Jul | 19 Jul | 20 Jul | 21 Jul | Summary
Specific funding for coverage of the 4th Session of the Preparatory Committee Established by the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/292: Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, has been provided by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the European Union (EU)
Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation EU

IISD Reporting Services is grateful to the many donors of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) and recognizes the following as core contributors to the ENB: the EU, the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)), the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2017 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES).