At a frantic pace, delegates at the fifth session of the intergovernmental conference (IGC-5) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) worked to conclude an initial reading of several sections of the revised draft text. They met in informal-informals, and in closed drafting- and small-group sessions to discuss:
- marine genetic resources (MGRs), including questions on the sharing of benefits;
- environmental impact assessments (EIAs);
- measures such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs); and
- cross-cutting issues, including general provisions, institutional arrangements and final provisions.
In their discussions on MGRs, they broached the testy issue of scope, including the material, temporal, and geographical scope of the new agreement. They also addressed definitions relevant to that part, and held a truncated discussion on intellectual property rights.
On ABMTs, they conducted an initial reading of provisions on: consultations on, and assessment of, proposals, and decision making related to ABMTs, including MPAs. Numerous issues are yet to be resolved.
Delegates meeting in the informal informals on EIAs addressed a technical part of the agreement, including the EIA process, public notification and consultation, and EIA reports. On institutional arrangements, a “small” group of more than 30 delegates met over lunch to address various issues related to decision making.
In the informal-informal discussions in the afternoon, delegates engaged in an interesting debate on the secretariat, with a number of states amenable to a standalone body rather than assigning this role to the UN Division on Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS).
Discussions continued into the evening. On Friday, delegates will meet in an end-of-day stocktaking plenary to chart the way forward for Week 2.