Daily report for 2 June 2011

4th Meeting of the BBNJ Working Group

On Thursday morning, Co-Chair Lijnzaad reported that the Friends of the Co-Chairs group’s meeting on Wednesday evening discussed an initial draft of elements for the recommendations, and announced that a revised draft was going to be discussed by the Friends at lunchtime. Delegates exchanged views on issues and questions requiring detailed background studies. In the afternoon, Co-Chair Lijnzaad announced that plenary would only resume on Friday morning to allow more time for the Friends of the Co-Chairs group to discuss the draft recommendations.


On Thursday morning, Co-Chair Lijnzaad invited views on key issues and questions requiring detailed background studies. The EU recommended that this item not reappear in future agendas, to avoid postponement of, or delayed, action. CANADA drew delegates’ attention to a non-paper containing their proposals on intersessional processes to inform the Working Group, outlining issues for further study. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION welcomed Canada’s non-paper as it highlighted a number of issues requiring in-depth analysis. ARGENTINA expressed concern at Canada’s non-paper suggestions saying that several policy issues currently on the Working Group’s agenda were proposed for discussion by experts in these workshops, including: legal and policy instruments for the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ, work on identification of EBSAs in ABNJ, the conduct of EIA, and the categorization of bioprospecting.

ICELAND and NEW ZEALAND supported Australia’s non-paper on a series of workshops to generate clearer understanding of options and areas of agreement and disagreement, with NEW ZEALAND noting that workshops should not prevent progress. BRAZIL enquired about the nature of the workshops proposed by Australia. AUSTRALIA expressed willingness to hear other delegations’ suggestions on possible formats for the workshops, stressing that workshops should facilitate “serious discussions” on all possibilities including a new UNCLOS implementation agreement and the potential for access to and benefit-sharing from MGRs in ABNJ; and underscored the need for the Working Group to define how the workshops can contribute to building consensus on these issues. Welcoming Australia’s non-paper, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO stressed the importance of obtaining the General Assembly’s endorsement of the workshops and the need for workshops to allow for the recognition of State contributions to the discussions and feed into the next meeting of the Working Group, rather than follow Chatham House rules. UNDOALOS Director drew a distinction between workshops organized only by States and those organized by the UN or under UN auspices.


As the Friends of the Co-Chairs did not meet for long on Wednesday afternoon, with national delegates seemingly repeating their plenary statements rather than engaging with an initial draft of the recommendations prepared by the Co-Chairs, it was no surprise that most of Thursday was taken up by a continuation of the Friends’ meeting. NGOs, marginalized from the discussions for most of the day, could not help but compare and contrast this peculiar understanding of “open-ended” as limited to national delegations, with practice under the Convention on Biological Diversity, where similar negotiations in contact groups are always open for accredited stakeholders to observe and even actively contribute.

As the afternoon progressed, delegates seemed to alternate between disappointment and cautious hope that a consensus bridge could be built between those advocating for an UNCLOS implementation agreement and those opposing it. The draft recommendations under discussion tried to facilitate that bridging exercise by containing a section on the legal framework and another on practical measures. The first suggested that a process be initiated by the General Assembly to address the “package” of issues on the Working Group’s agenda, with a view to the possible development of an UNCLOS implementation agreement, including: options for the conservation, sustainable use, access and benefit-sharing from MGRs, capacity building and technology transfer; consideration of a coordination mechanism among states and intergovernmental organizations to identify EBSAs; the identification of a competent body for the designation and management of MPAs in ABNJ; the development of principles and criteria for MPA establishment in ABNJ; and the development of principles or guidelines for EIA in ABNJ. The second section on implementation and practical measures suggested: promoting developing country scientists’ participation in MSR in ABNJ; promoting cross-sectoral cooperation among RFMOs and global sectoral organizations for conservation and sustainable use; fostering better understanding of ongoing and projected activities in ABNJ that may cause significant or harmful changes to the marine environment, including cumulative effects; facilitating implementation, or information-sharing, on EIA and SEA; assessing the feasibility of modalities for establishing and managing MPAs; fostering work on shared understanding of EBSAs using inter-governmentally agreed criteria; promoting information-sharing on MGR use and voluntary codes of conduct for research activities; and ascertaining the use of IPRs related to MGRs and their role in benefit-sharing. Delegates also considered whether to: convene workshops to generate clearer understanding of concerns and options; reviewing the mandate of the Working Group with a view to developing more focused recommendations; and convening the next meeting of the Working Group in 2012. The Friends continued their meeting into the evening, as agreement on the first portion of the draft recommendations – the legal framework – remained elusive.

ENB SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of the Marine Biodiversity Working Group will be available on Monday, 6 June 2011 online at: http://enb.iisd.org/oceans/marinebiodiv4/

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org> is written and edited by Alice Miller, Elisa Morgera, Ph.D. and Dorothy Wanja Nyingi. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the European Commission (DG-ENV), and the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea. General Support for the Bulletin during 2011 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute – GISPRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Belgium Walloon Region, the Province of Québec, and the International Organization of the Francophone (OIF and IEPF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 320 E 46th St., APT 32A, New York, NY10017-3037, USA. The ENB team at the Working Group can be contacted by e-mail at <elisa@iisd.org>. 代表団の友