Options on Approaches, Modalities, and Strategies on Capacity Development for a New International Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
Presented by the Government of France, Permanent Mission of Barbados, Global Ocean Forum/International Coastal and Ocean Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, and Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation
This side event showcased a policy brief on capacity development by a multi-author, multi-stakeholder group led by the Global Environment Facility / Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN / Global Ocean Forum (GEF/FAO/GOF) Project on ‘Strengthening Global Capacity to Effectively Manage Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.’ Panelists discussed finance and clearinghouse mechanisms as well as modalities to link global, regional, and national actions.
Side event co-Chairs Juliette Babb-Riley, Permanent Mission of Barbados, and Serge Segura, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France, opened the event. Babb-Riley recognized the role of capacity building in small island developing States (SIDS), and welcomed the policy brief that supported the event. Segura expressed optimism on a strong agreement on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and noted the importance of capacity building to the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) and environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
Biliana Cicin-Sain, President, Global Ocean Forum, highlighted that capacity building can serve as an enabler of other major topics under a new agreement on BBNJ. She discussed financing capacity building for BBNJ, outlining public, philanthropic, and innovative sources, but lamented that the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), without a standing financial mechanism, is reliant on voluntary contributions. The policy brief, 'Capacity Development as a Key Aspect of a New International Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ),' Cicin-Sain flagged, also reviews clearinghouse mechanisms that can link global institutions to regional and national levels. She underscored that the multi-stakeholder group behind the policy brief stands ready to support parties’ information needs.
Atsushi Sunami, President, Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan, described capacity development efforts by non-governmental organizations, largely from developed countries, which primarily target individuals. He noted the efforts focus on short-term training and fellowships, but that long-term support and raising capacities at institutional or societal levels is essential, thus collaboration is needed.
Marjo Vierros, Global Ocean Forum, pointed participants to a document on capacity building, technology transfer, and the questions in the president’s aid to discussions. She noted that the document organizes material from the policy brief in accordance with those questions.
Alice Revell, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand, underscored the need for making the technical assistance available for SIDS more easily accessible, as well as the importance of comparative studies of different options.
Marc Richir, European Commission, said the EU is working to improve the international governance of oceans as there are many projects underway. Given multiple financing mechanisms and funding streams, he noted a need to strengthen synergies and coordination. He emphasized the importance of defining what a “clearinghouse mechanism” actually means.
Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, stressed that knowledge science is not necessarily intuitive, and that we need to be at the cutting edge of science. Developing countries, he noted, need to understand well the issues so that they can discuss and fully participate in the process.
Mehdi Remaoun, Permanent Mission of Algeria and Coordinator of the African Group, underlined that unless well-suited clearinghouse mechanisms for developing countries are set in place, the new BBNJ instrument will not work. He emphasized that both mandatory and voluntary financial resources are needed.
T. Suka Mangisi, Permanent Mission of Tonga, presented the “Joint Committee” partnership based at UN headquarters in New York that allows all SIDS to get involved. Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, and Spain are supporting this mechanism through which SIDS submit BBNJ-related projects that can then receive support for implementation, he described.
Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), mentioned that even though the UN General Assembly (UNGA) mandated several trust funds, they are currently either depleted or close to depletion. Thus, voluntary financial contributions, both for the participation of developing countries in the negotiation process and implementation, are needed.
Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO, underlined the need for multiple, flexible clearinghouse mechanisms at all levels – local, national, regional, and global.
Haiwen Zhang, China Institute for Marine Affairs, stressed the need for investment in research on deep sea issues, as well for capacity building for knowledge sharing.
Tomas Anker Christensen, Chief Advisor to the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, emphasized that four of the targets under SDG 14 (on oceans) are maturing in 2020, and are highly relevant to the BBNJ discussions. He mentioned that Peter Thomson, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, is currently rallying support for capacity building to achieve the respective targets.
In the ensuing discussion, participants raised issues related to, inter alia, the need for data collection, sustainable financing mechanisms, and needs assessments for different continents.